Coal Revival Surges As High Gas Prices Drive Czechs To Cheaper Fuels
In this part of the northeastern Czech Republic, huge piles of coal are stacked up ready to sell to eager buyers, and smoke belches from coal-fired plants that are ramping up instead of winding down.
Ostrava has been working for decades to end its legacy as the most polluted area of the country, transitioning from an industrial working-class stronghold to a modern city with tourist sights. [emphasis, links added]
Households and businesses are turning to the fuel once considered obsolete as they seek a cheaper option than natural gas, whose prices have surged as Russia slashed supplies to Europe.
Demand for brown coal – the cheapest and most energy-inefficient form – used by Czech households jumped by almost 35% in the first nine months of 2022 over a year earlier.
In the same period, production rose more than 20%, the first increase after an almost continuous, decadeslong decline, the Czech Industry and Trade Ministry said.
“We’re worried,” said Zdenka Nemecková Crkvenjas, who is responsible for the environment as a member of the governing council of the Moravian-Silesian region. “If the prices won’t go down, what might happen is that we’ll be facing increased pollution.”
The region is part of the Upper Silesian Coal Basin, a large industrialized area straddling the Czech-Polish border with rich deposits of coal and factories producing steel, power, and the type of coal used for steel-making that date to the 19th century.
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