Germany, the UK and Poland have topped the "dirty 30", a list of the 30 most CO2-polluting thermal power plants in the EU, released in a report written by environmental campaigners including the Climate Action Network and the Health and Environment Alliance.
Poland's Belchatów plant ranked first, with three other Polish plants making the top 30. However the UK and Germany dominated overall with nine plants each making the top 30; five German plants were in the top ten, and four in the top five. The "dirty 30" plants all burn lignite or hard coal, with the exception of one Estonian plant, which uses oil shale.
CO2 emissions from the EU's power sector as a whole are still declining, the report acknowledged, thanks to the reductions achieved by renewable energy including onshore wind, but coal electricity generation during 2009-2012 has partly offset this fall.
The low cost of coal, compared to gas, has led to power suppliers leaning on coal-fired plants, but the report emphasized that the increase in emissions from coal is due to increased use of existing assets rather than a net increase in the number of coal plants.