Greenpeace uses 4000 windmills to call on Belgium and E.ON to quit coal

Press release - 7 November, 2008
More than 80 activists placed thousands of windmills with the message to “Quit Coal” at the site of E.ON’s proposed coal fired power-plant in Antwerp Harbour. The action illustrates the choice facing Flemish authorities: authorise the construction of a huge coal power plant, or invest in wind power and greater energy independence.

This afternoon, a Greenpeace delegation will meet with the Cabinet of Flemish Minister President, Kris Peeters, to debate how Flanders and Belgium can move to a future free of coal and nuclear power.

"It's a question of good governance. The current environment impact report process(1) is meaningless. Flanders should not allow the construction of any new coal power plant," said Fawaz Al Bitar, Greenpeace Belgium Climate and Energy Campaigner.

German electricity provider E.ON envisages the construction of an 1100MW coal power plant in Antwerp. The Antwerp coal power plant would emit some 6 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Coal is the most polluting of all fossil fuels. A third of all CO2 emissions come from coal and, if business continues as usual, this could increase to 60% by 2030.(2)

E.ON plans a €50 billion investment programme for 2008-2010 to expand its generation capacity across Europe, only €6 billion (12%) of which is to be invested in renewable sources of energy. E.ON plans to build eight new coal plants in Germany, Belgium, the UK and the Netherlands (costing around €1.2 billion each) and to construct another 2000MW of coal-fired capacity in the rest of the EU.(3)

The action comes after the Rainbow Warrior demonstrated the potential of a North Sea electricity grid by simulating the connection of the first Belgian offshore wind farm to those of neighbouring countries. This approach is outlined in the North Sea electricity grid [r]evolution report.(4)

'The interconnection of North Sea wind farms contributes to the reliability of this renewable energy and allows it to be combined with other renewable energy sources, like hydraulic energy from Norway,' explained Al Bitar.

Today's protests are part of a four-month tour by the Greenpeace ships Rainbow Warrior and Arctic Sunrise. Bringing the "Quit Coal" message to the Mediterranean and Europe, the expedition is happening in the run-up to crucial UN climate negotiations in Poznan, Poland, this December.

Quitting coal will be essential to a meaningful deal to save the climate. European governments must show leadership by phasing-out coal in their own countries. Greenpeace's Energy [R]evolution shows how renewable energy, combined with greater energy efficiency, can cut global CO2 emissions by 50% and deliver half the world's energy needs by 2050.(5)

Other contacts: Elysabeth Loos, Media Officer, Greenpeace Belgium:
+ 32 496 161 589
Fawaz Al Bitar, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Belgium:
+ 32 496 122 231
Marc-Olivier Herman, Campaign Director, Greenpeace Belgium:
+ 32 478 288 047

Notes: (1) In Flanders, the MER or Environmental Impact Statement
(2) For more information on E.ON go to: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/coal-the-eu-and-eon
(3) Figures for this calculation are sourced from the Contribution of Working Group III to the 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
(4) See 'A north sea electricity grid [r]evolution'
(5) Greenpeace's Energy [R]evolution