The present: here and in the world

Coal in the European Union

In the EU member states coal is a traditional and one of the most abundant domestic sources of energy. Hard coal is imported to an increasing extent, in particular from the USA, China, Australia and South Africa. Internal exploitation in the EU is unprofitable due to high cost of labour and safety measures. Sale of domestic hard coal is mostly subsidized by European governments and mining is gradually beeing reduced. Part of this fact is also due to the unverified hypothesis according to which emissions of carbon dioxide are the cause of global warming.

In spite of that, coal remains a significant source of energy. 50 percent of electricity in Germany originates from coal, in the case of the UK it is over 30 percent, etc. In the case of new members of the EU this share is even higher.

In recent years the position of the EU towards coal has begun to change – in particular concerning the necessity of enhancing energy self-sufficiency. Many EU member states possess their own rich deposits, however importing from abroad is even easier than in case of oil, as coal reserves are larger and are distributed more evenly. Moreover, coal has no special safety or technology requirements concerning its transport and storage. It is therefore a relatively low-cost raw material, which is reflected also in the favourable price of the acquired energy. Also for this reason Europe gradually is re-considering its strategy. Phasing down is being replaced with support for development of clean methods of producing electricity from coal.