COAL power used for electricity generation on the Spanish mainland has fallen to ‘historic’ lows this year, contributing just 1.7% last May.

The usage remained low through June, with the fossil fuel making up 2.1% of the energy mix.

It is the lowest since records began in 1990, according to the Spanish Electric Network (REE).

The coal power station in As Pones, in A Coruña, is the biggest in Spain – but according to its owner, Endesa, it has spent entire weeks idle since April.

“This has never happened before,” a spokesperson told El Pais.

The fallout has meant that around 150 transport workers who drive the coal from port to power station have been out of work for almost two months.

The government has planned to shut down coal power plants using Spanish resources.

But for power stations using imported coal, of which As Pones is one in seven, the plan was to keep them in operation for the next 10 years.

The fallout is largely due to the price of emitting CO2 in the European coal market – at just over €26 per ton released into the atmosphere – for which coal power plants are the most heavily penalised.

Within the electricity sector, coal is the country’s main culprit for greenhouse gases.

Natural gas meanwhile emits less than half of the CO2 emissions of coal.

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