Sweden becomes third European country to close its last coal power plant.
Just days after Austria completed its coal power phase out, Sweden follows suit with closure of Stockholm plant
Sweden has become the third European country to complete its phase out of coal power, after last week confirming the closure of Stockholm Exergi AB's Värtaverket plant.
The news came in the same week as Austria shuttered its last coal plant and sees the two countries join Belgium in having completely removed coal power from their grids.
In a statement on its website, Stockholm Exergi AB said: "The coal-fired cogeneration plant KVV6 at Värtaverket has been in operation and supplied heat and electricity to Stockholmers since 1989. Now it is closed."
The closure came earlier than expected with a mild winter accelerating the decision to shutter the plant. "The mild winter has meant that that reserve has not had to be used, and now it is closed down for good," the company said. "Our goal is for all our production to come from renewable or recycled energy."
The milestone was welcomed by campaign group Europe Beyond Coal, which stressed that further countries are set to join the growing band of coal power-free nations in the coming years.
"With Sweden going coal free in the same week as Austria, the downward trajectory of coal in Europe is clear," said campaign director Kathrin Gutmann. "Against the backdrop of the serious health challenges we are currently facing, leaving coal behind in exchange for renewables is the right decision, and will repay us in kind with improved health, climate protection and more resilient economies."
Six more European countries are expected to complete promised coal phase outs by 2025 or earlier, with France aiming to close its last plant in 2022, Slovakia and Portugal scheduled to follow by 2023, the UK aiming for a 2024 target date, and Ireland and Italy planning to shutter their last plants by 2025.
A further five European nations are working to complete coal power phase outs by 2030, including Greece, the Netherlands, Finland, Hungary, and Denmark. Meanwhile, discussions are currently underway in the Czech Republic, Spain, and North Macedonia over proposed coal phase out target dates.
The German government has also announced plans to exit coal by 2038 with the target and accompanying compensation packages set to be incorporated in a new coal exit law. The pledge has been welcomed in some quarters as evidence that one of Europe's most coal-reliant economies is set to phase out the fuel, but it has also attracted criticism from environmental campaigners and clean energy investors who have warned the target date is too late to meet Germany's climate goals.
However, some analysts have predicted that coal phase outs could proceed faster than planned, as renewables costs continue to fall, carbon prices are expected to rise in the long term, air quality rules tighten, and energy companies look to accelerate their net zero transition plans, all undermining the economic case for coal generation.
For example, in the UK the final coal plant is not set to close until 2024, but recent years have seen coal capacity contract sharply, while coal's share of the grid has fallen to below 10 per cent with the summer months seeing lengthy periods when coal plants do not operate.
21 April 2020