By Susanna Twidale
LONDON (Reuters) - Analysts have raised their European carbon market average price forecasts in response to persistently high gas prices that encourage electricity generators to use more polluting coal-fired power and increase demand for carbon permits.
EU Allowances (EUAs) are expected to average 84.14 euros a tonne in 2022 and 91.71 euros in 2023, a Reuters survey of seven analysts showed. That is up 27.2% and 38.5% respectively from forecasts made in October.
In their first forecast for 2024 prices, analysts on average predicted 94.11 euros a tonne.
The European Union's Emissions Trading System (ETS), forces manufacturers, power companies and airlines to pay for each tonne of carbon dioxide they emit as part of Europe’s efforts to meet its climate targets.
Analysts said a continuation of high gas prices, driven by concerns over supply from Russia, escalating tensions on the Russia-Ukraine border and the fate of the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany, was bullish for carbon permits.
"The upside risk persists throughout the next year. European gas prices could stay at high levels with the launch of Nord Stream 2 facing opposition," Vertis analyst Bernadett Papp said.
As part of possible sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine, Germany has said it could halt the Nord Stream 2. Russia has said the pipeline, which crosses the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, could calm gas markets by increasing supplies.
The West has accused Russia of deliberately limiting gas flows to western Europe, which it denies.
High gas prices make it more economical for some generators to burn coal, which produces around double the amount of carbon dioxide emissions as gas plants.
“Our gas-to-coal switching curve still predicts coal being more cost efficient than gas until December 2023 implying a potential bullish effect on EUAs,” said Goda Aglinskaite, carbon market analyst at ClearBlue.
The analysts said carbon prices could dip if gas prices drop and coal use dwindles.
The benchmark December 2022 contract is trading around 85 euros a tonne, having risen almost 150% in 2021 after Europe announced tougher climate measures and gas prices hit record highs.
(Reporting By Susanna Twidale; editing by Barbara Lewis)