By Nina Chestney
LONDON (Reuters) - European Union industrial carbon emissions rose by up to 2.4 percent last year, analysts surveyed by Reuters estimated, below the market cap and keeping the 27-nation bloc on track to meet its 2020 climate target.
The EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS) limits the emissions of over 12,000 installations, including power plants and factories, and covers over 40 percent of the 27-nation bloc's total emissions.
The EU Commission publishes emissions data for the scheme in April each year, which is watched by analysts and traders to estimate the balance of supply and demand for permits called EU Allowances, and therefore prices.
Analysts already estimate that emissions rose last year by between 0 and 2 percent, based on their calculations for 2010 emissions. Final official EU data last May showed emissions rose 3.2 percent in 2010.
"We expect a slight rise of 1.6 percent due to a reduction in industrial production in the fourth quarter last year, milder weather and heavy investment in renewables," said Trevor Sikorski, head of carbon research at Barclays Capital.
Total EU industrial production rose over the first 10 months of 2011 but was softer in the fourth quarter as the effects of the EU sovereign debt crisis and weak financial markets hit.
Societe Generale's Emmanuel Fages forecast a 2.4 percent increase, while Nomisma Energia's Matteo Mazzoni saw 2 percent.
EU industry's emissions were capped at 1.995 billion tonnes in 2011, according to Thomson Reuters Point Carbon analysts.
"The figure we have right now sees a 2 percent rise year-on-year with 1.98 billion tonnes of CO2 last year - an increase which outstripped the slowdown in industrial production recorded in the second half of last year," Mazzoni said.
The increase was mainly due to greater fossil fuel generation in Germany, Britain, Spain and Poland based on regulatory changes, he added.
Germany decided to phase out nuclear power last year, which increased its reliance on fossil fuels, while Spain introduced controversial subsidies for coal-based power generation.
However, another analyst saw emissions as flat in 2011.
Ingo Tschach, managing director of Tschach Solutions, estimates emissions inched down by 0.15 percent, as some EU nations relied more on nuclear power and others on renewables.
"Solar exploded in terms of capacity development while more offshore wind came on line as well. You have to remember that we still have relatively high coal prices at over $100 which has given incentives to industry to invest in energy efficiency."
Last week, UK coal-fired power generator Drax and UK utility Centrica said they spent less on carbon permits last year as reliance on renewables increased.
The EU aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. Emissions last year were already down 17 percent on 1990 and increased energy efficiency should mean the EU can achieve a 25 percent reduction by 2020, the Commission has said.
The bloc has offered to go to 30 percent if other countries commit to deeper cuts as part of a global climate deal.
This year, the Commission forecasts economic output in the 17 nations sharing the euro will contract further, which will likely dampen emissions growth.
The euro zone was last in recession in 2009 when the economy contracted 4.3 percent during the deepest global slump since the 1930s. As a result, EU ETS emissions fell 11.6 percent that year to 1.872 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.
(additional reporting by Jeff Coelho, editing by William Hardy)