Coal power plants in Ukraine, the Western Balkans, Turkey, Poland and Germany are among the main contributors to air pollution, a new study from London-based independent climate and energy think tank, Ember, showed Tuesday.
Countries subsidizing coal power plants should channel the incentives into their abundant renewable energy potential, which would replace coal power easily, the analysis said.
"With pollutants sometimes traveling thousands of kilometers, air pollution from coal power is a problem for the whole of Europe no matter the source," the study said.
Ember defines air pollution as a mixture of gaseous and particulate components that pose a threat to human health, resulting in high numbers of premature deaths.
Pollutants, including particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) can be found in the energy, manufacturing, transportation and agriculture sectors, which are released into the atmosphere.
Particulate matter caused about 417,000 premature deaths in 41 European countries in 2018, data from the European Environment Agency showed.
The analysis covering 27 EU countries, the UK, Turkey and Energy Community countries, shows that the majority of PM10 pollution from coal power generation originates from plants in Ukraine where there are eight out of the top ten most polluting plants for PM10.
A breakdown of NOx pollution highlights Poland and Germany as being the top polluters in the EU. Poland’s Belchatow plant along with four German plants top the list.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from the top ten plants account for 44% of the total SO2 emissions from coal power in Europe.
The top ten rankings for SO2 consist of three coal plants in Turkey and three in Serbia, two in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and one each in Ukraine and North Macedonia.
Almost all of the dirty coal plants in the top thirty are older than 30 years, according to the analysis.
"Most Energy Community countries did not comply with the national pollutant emissions ceilings in 2019. Ukraine, being on the top of all polluter lists, interestingly met all emission ceilings for all three pollutants by a large margin," the study said.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya