Published on March 21, 2019

Romania’s dodgy math: will the country retire 2.2 GW of coal by the end of 2019?

Romania’s National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) contains dodgy maths that seems to imply the country will retire 2.2 GW of coal by the end of 2019, according to an analysis of the document published in March by Bankwatch Romania.

Romania’s NECP, a document supposed to guide the country’s climate and energy policy for the next decade, claims Romania will have only 3.7 GW of installed coal capacity by 2020 – a shocking claim considering that currently there are 5.9 GW installed and the government made no plans to retire any unit this year.

The document also says that an another 540MW of coal capacity will disappear by 2030. Additionally, the NECP includes a very unambitious target for renewable energy in final energy consumption of only 27.9%.

‘Normally, anybody who wants to prevent a catastrophic increase of the global temperature would be happy to hear that 2 GW of coal will be retired in one year. But let’s not open the champagne bottles yet. The NECP lacks a commitment for a coal phaseout and it relies on plans to build a new coal unit. This means the 2020 installed capacity figure is likely a blatant inaccuracy – even more embarrassing as Romania is now in the spotlight for holding the EU Presidency,’ comments Alexandru Mustata, campaigner for Bankwatch Romania.

According to Bankwatch, calculations for the NECP are based on the National Energy Strategy, which prioritizes building a new 600MW unit on the site of the existing Rovinari power plant in Gorj county. An expert assessment of the economics of the new unit included in the Bankwatch publication shows that the new Rovinari unit would hardly (if ever) be economic if built. Fuel, CO2 and limestone costs will eat up 82% of the total revenue generated by the unit, leaving little room to cover the other costs – salaries, operation etc. – not to mention making a profit.

‘Romania once again fails to prepare a clear strategy to tackle this century’s biggest challenge: climate change,’ says Mustata. ‘Instead, it plans a new coal unit while most other European countries plan phaseouts and it squanders its enormous renewables potential. All this while being at the helm of the EU and supposedly offering guidance to the entire block.’

Photo of the Rovinari power plant on the foreground: Țetcu Mircea Rareș.