When the CPF first came into effect in April 2013, it was based on the carbon price support (CPS) price per tonne of CO2 on top of the EU emission trading system (ETS) rate per tonne of CO2. At that time the CPS was £0.819 per Gigajoule (GJ). The introduction of this led to closures of several coal plants from 2012-2014 in the UK, with a total capacity of 8.4 Gigawatt (GW), enough to generate electricity for an estimated 6.7 million homes (Total: 25 million homes).
From the beginning of 2016 the CPS was increased to £1.568 per GJ equalling to around £18 per tonne of CO2, operating on top of the EU ETS at €5 per tonne of CO2. In September 2016 this was equivalent to a tax around £63.90 on a tonne coal worth £46.38 (CIF ARA). This increase led to a further closure of 8.2 GW in 2015 and 2016.
The CPF will double again in 2020 to £30 per tonne of CO2 and by 2030 it will be £70 per tonne of CO2.
Peter Sand adds:” Implementing a tax which increased the total price of coal by 138 %, caused an immediate reaction from the UK coal-fired power plants. The dry bulk industry is hugely affected by this, due to a large reduction in long haul thermal coal imports.”
The capacity taken out as a result of closures has put the UK into a position where their domestically produced supply of electricity will struggle to meet peaks in demand. In the case of domestically produced electricity falling short of demand, the UK will need to rely on importing electricity from other European countries.
Depending on the other European countries energy mix, their electricity exports will be a surplus of renewable fossil fuel - or nuclear energy. If the electricity generated comes from fossil fuel it may offset the declining UK coal imports somewhat and the change in demand for the dry bulk shipping industry will be less severe.
Price floor does the trading schemes job
While the effect of the UK carbon price floor to coal imports is undeniable, the European Union emission trading scheme (ETS) has not limited coal imports to the same extent. The development of the European ETS rate per tonne of CO2 from €30 in 2008 to the current €5, has not incentivised others to reduce coal consumption on a large scale. The decrease of the EU ETS rate is primarily due to an oversupply in allowances.
UK coal consumption has been falling for four years, while the development in EU coal consumption has been more stable. The increase of the CPF level in 2016, caused a decline of 56.7% year-on-year for the first five months of 2016. A total of 6,839 thousand tonnes was consumed in the first five months, compared to 15,800 thousand tonnes in the year before.
Peter Sand comments: “It will be a setback for the dry bulk shipping industry if the CPF becomes a standardised scheme and is adopted by other nations as well as on a supranational level. It will, if introduced at the same level as in the UK, cause a similar development and closure of coal-fired power plants.
France, importing the fourth largest share of coal for European countries (8%) in 2016, has already imposed a CPF on 30€ per tonne of CO2 planned to be introduced in January 2017”.