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Mendelevitch: New book chapter on the role of coal-fired power generation


New book chapter on the role of coal-fired power generation with Carbon Capture and Storage, nuclear power and renewable energies in the transformation of the European electricity system


Based on a historical review, the chapter describes the development of European power generation. After a summary of the emergence of the European electricity market and the evolution of European climate policy, the chapter critically examines the three pillars of the transformation of the European electricity system: Carbon Capture, Transport and Storage (CCTS), Nuclear Power, and Renewable Energy. Coal and nuclear power, the two energy sources that Germany has banished from its energy mix, are still high on the European agenda. The chapter therefore offers economic and technical arguments that could explain this choice. Results show that CCTS has so far made no progress and that all European CCTS pilot projects have failed. Likewise, because of its high costs and inherent risks, nuclear power is not an economic option for a low-carbon energy transition. At the same time, the potential of renewable energies in European transformation scenarios was systematically underestimated, mainly due to an overestimation of costs and an underestimation of the technical potential. We identify key factors that have shaped a European energy mix that appears to contradict the likely unavailability of CCTS technologies in the foreseeable future and the high cost of nuclear energy. Here we note that many of the differences in the assessments of individual Member States are due to different interpretations of the costs and benefits of these technologies as well as to specific national factors.


Mendelevitch, Roman, Claudia Kemfert, Pao-Yu Oei, and Christian von Hirschhausen. 2018. “The Electricity Mix in the European Low-Carbon Transformation: Coal, Nuclear, and Renewables.” In Energiewende “Made in Germany,” edited by Christian von Hirschhausen, Clemens Gerbaulet, Claudia Kemfert, Casimir Lorenz, and Pao-Yu Oei, 241–282. Cham: Springer International Publishing.