Two thirds of the so-called capacity mechanism was estimated to support coal power. Photo: © Shutterstock – Voyagerix

Hidden subsidies for coal, gas and nuclear

New research by Greenpeace reveals that €58 billion goes to supporting coal, gas and nuclear in the form of so-called capacity mechanisms – a controversial type of subsidy given supposedly to safeguard supply in case extra power is needed, although the plants that receive the subsidies are rarely called on.

To date, capacity mechanisms have cost consumers €32.2 billion, and a further €25.7 billion has been earmarked until 2040. The countries handing out the most capacity mechanisms are Spain and Poland (€17.9 billion and €14.4 billion respectively), followed by Belgium, Ireland and the UK (all around €6 billion) and Germany (around €3 billion).

Greenpeace researchers were able to identify the type of fuel receiving the subsidy in around half of the cases, with 66 per cent of that money going to coal-fired plants.

Whilst the European Commission and Parliament want to restrict capacity mechanisms, national governments have rejected such restrictions. Poland, the UK, and Greece are leading the charge in favour of capacity mechanisms so that they can continue to subsidise their unprofitable fossil fuel and nuclear power plants.



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