In Brief
  • Six countries are all on track to significantly reduce, if not eliminate, coal generated power from their respective grids.
  • Renewable energy is not only safer for our environment, it is also become more profitable than coal.

Ditching Coal

The next few years are going to be rough on coal producers as nations are slowly shifting away from it as a source of electricity. Solar and wind power is becoming a much cheaper alternative to coal and countries have been making sure that new power plants to be constructed are for renewable sources.

The recent ratification of the Paris agreement has only accelerated this further with six more nations pledging to simply ditch coal in favor of cleaner forms of power generation. These six nations are Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Finland.

 

Credit: Seth Perlman AP
Credit: Seth Perlman AP

Germany has ratified its Climate Action Plan 2050 which lays out its plan to limit coal power to 50 percent by 2030 and by going coal-free by 2050. The Dutch parliament has approved a similar plan to go coal-free by 2030 through the closure of its 5 remaining coal power plants. Canada has also pledged to phase-out coal by 2030 which translates to the country’s reduction of CO2 emissions by 90 percent. For Austria, a target of 34 percent renewable energy by 2020 and a long-term target of 100 percent self-sufficiency are on the horizon. Finland plans to outright ban the burning of coal by 2030. Finally, France has a more aggressive timeline for the shift from coal by phasing it out by 2023.

Economic and Environmental Reasons

All these nations stand to gain a lot by phasing-out coal. Not only do these countries get cleaner air by the reduction of greenhouse gases which cause respiratory diseases, they could also save a lot of money by eliminating the need to purchase coal. Finland, for example, imports its coal from other countries. By banning coal, these countries can be more self-sufficient in their power generation.

Government policies may be one of the primary reasons for the gradual phase-out of coal but private companies are also a big part of this change. Companies like Tesla and Solar City take a big risk by providing cleaner energy to consumers but in the process, they are bringing renewables to the mainstream and showing the world that not only are renewables cleaner, they could also be more profitable.