Sweden and Austria have joined Belgium as the only three European nations no longer reliant on coal for power and heating.
Sweden had initially set a target of going coal-free by 2022. But after a mild winter, the last remaining coal-fired plant – KVV6 in Värtaverke, Stockholm, has closed.
The shut-down on April 16 will help Stockholm achieve its target of carbon neutrality by 2040.
“Since Stockholm was almost totally fossil-dependent 30-40 years ago, we have made enormous changes and now we are taking the step away from carbon dependence and continuing the journey towards an energy system entirely based on renewable and recycled energy,” said Anders Egelrud, CEO of Stockholm Exergi – the company which previously ran the coal plant.
The closing of KVV6 will halve Stockholm Exergi’s annual carbon emissions. KVV6 has been in operation since 1989.
Since 1990, the Swedish capital’s greenhouse gas emissions per resident have been cut in half. In 2010, Stockholm became the first city to receive the EU Commission’s European Green Capital award.
Across Europe, there is a move away from coal power towards greener energy
Austria is following the same path. Mellach – the last remaining coal fired power plant, was also closed this month. Mellach will now become a pilot plant for high-temperature electrolysis.
Austria’s goal is to operate with 100% renewable power sources by 2030.
Europe Beyond Coal, the campaign working towards a greener coal-free continent, reacted positively to the latest developments in Sweden and Austria.
“With Sweden going coal-free in the same week as Austria, the downward trajectory of coal in Europe is clear,” campaign director Kathrin Gutmann told PV Magazine.
“Against the backdrop of the serious health challenges we are facing, leaving coal behind in exchange for renewables is the right decision. It will repay us in kind with improved health, climate protection and more resilient economies,” she added.
Sweden’s last coal plant has closed, making it totally coal power free two years early!
— Europe Beyond Coal (@EurBeyondCoal) April 21, 2020
According to the organization, 86 coal power plants have been shut down or have announced their intention to close since 2016.
“Mining and burning coal has devastating effects on public health, the environment, and the global climate.
“It’s also holding back many communities that are being given a false choice between jobs and health. Both will be achieved with a just transition to renewable energy,” read a statement on the Europe Beyond Coal homepage.
Image credit: Vladimir Zhuravlev