‘It’s over, finished’: Coal boss gloomy about future EU power market

(EurActiv, 31 Jan 2023) The EU’s electricity sector is likely to be more heavily regulated in the coming years, with coal, gas and nuclear falling under closer government supervision and only renewable energies remaining part of a competitive EU market, according to the vice-president of Euracoal, a trade association.

Europe’s electricity sector is entering a period of regulatory uncertainty, with the European Commission due to table new proposals in the first quarter to reform the bloc’s power market.

“We are in a new era,” says Vladimír Budinský, vice-president of Euracoal.

Indeed, when the first EU energy liberalisation directive was enacted in the early 2000s, the European power sector was in overcapacity – producing more than consumers needed – which led to a wave of privatisations from governments unwilling to invest, he remarked.

“Now we’re seeing the opposite trend,” he told EURACTIV, with electricity demand exceeding supply due to chronic under-investment in the last decade, new uses like electric mobility and mounting concerns related to energy security.

Energy companies went bankrupt in Germany and the UK last year due to sky-high gas prices caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine. As a result, governments have increased their involvement in the energy sector, with some nationalising power utilities.

This was the case of Uniper in Germany, which bailed out last year because it could no longer afford to honour the terms of its gas contracts with suppliers. Other players like Gazprom Germania were also nationalised for energy security reasons.

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EurActiv, 31 Jan 2023: ‘It’s over, finished’: Coal boss gloomy about future EU power market