End of inflexible generation? – Coal unprofitable while flexible gas and storage make profit

30 min + 13 min Q&A

End of inflexible generation? – Coal unprofitable while flexible gas and storage make profit

Electricity market price volatility has increased, creating an opportunity for flexible generation and storage. The Wärtsilä Energy Transition Lab shows that combined cycle gas turbine profitability is down 36% from 1 January to 9 May 2020, coal generation is making a loss difference -229% in the UK. In contrary to the UK, German combined cycle gas turbine profits show a positive development, which can to a large extent be contributed to heavily reduced gas and CO2 prices, making cyclic operation feasible. However, flexible assets have increased their profits from day ahead and intraday markets by a staggering 471% for the first 5 months of the year. It stands to reason that flexibility is being rewarded and that there is an unprecedented opportunity on the European markets for very flexible plants right now – a trend that predicts well for a faster energy transition.

The Guardian recently reported that the global coal industry will “never recover” from the COVID-19 pandemic. We have witnessed the same through the Wärtsilä Energy Transition Lab - a free-to-use data platform developed to help the industry, policy makers and the public to understand European electricity markets and plan for a future with a significantly increased level of renewables. The COVID-19 pandemic has given us a glimpse into that future, with the global lockdown causing a decrease in energy demand and leading to a significant increase in renewable penetration.

Wärtsilä Energy Transition Lab could play a vital role in the transition from coal to renewable energy and in powering the next generation. Watch the recording of our Live session to learn more.

Our presenters

Björn Ullbro

Vice President, Africa & Europe Wärtsilä Energy Business


Matti Rautkivi

Director, Strategy and Business Development, Wärtsilä


Stefan Lechtenböhmer

Director, Future Energy and Industry Systems Wuppertal Institut