Governments across Europe are preparing for winter while the energy crisis continues, and energy company Orsted has been forced by Danish authorities to continue or restart operations at three fossil fuel facilities.
The Danish state, Orsted’s largest shareholder, said in a statement over the weekend that the decision had been made “to ensure the security of the electricity supply in Denmark.”
Orsted said the order applied to “unit 3 at Esbjerg Power Station and unit 4 at Studstrup Power Station, which both use coal as their primary source of fuel, and unit 21 at Kyndby Peak Load Plant, which uses oil as fuel.”
Esbjerg Power Station had been slated for decommissioning on March 31, 2023, it added, while the other two units were already decommissioned.
“In order to ensure the security of the electricity supply, the Danish authorities have today ordered us to continue as well as resume operations at some of our oil- and coal-fired power stations,” Mads Nipper, the Orsted CEO, said.
“We will, of course, comply with the Danish authorities’ order, and we’ll now begin preparing and maintaining the units as well as securing the staffing necessary to operate them,” Nipper added.
Orsted stated that in addition to “highly specialized workers” needing to be trained to operate the sites, all of the units involved would require maintenance in order to be ready for operation.
According to the firm, it was mandated to maintain the three units operating until June 30, 2024. Orsted, a significant stakeholder in the wind energy industry, has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2025.
The news will dismay those opposed to the continued use of fossil fuels. Coal has a substantial effect on the environment, with Greenpeace describing it as “the dirtiest, most polluting way of producing energy.”
Elsewhere, the U.S. Energy Information Administration lists a range of emissions from coal combustion, including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulates and nitrogen oxides.
“We still believe that we, as a society, must phase out the use of gas, oil, and coal as soon as possible, but we’re in the middle of a European energy crisis, and we will, of course, contribute to ensuring the electricity supply to the best of our ability,” Orsted’s Nipper said.
A few days before Orsted’s announcement, another big European energy firm, Germany’s RWE, said three of its lignite, or brown coal, units would “temporarily return to the electricity market to strengthen security of supply and save gas in power generation.”
RWE said each of the units had a 300 megawatt capacity. “Their deployment is initially limited until 30 June 2023,” it added.