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Sweden closes last coal plant two years ahead of schedule

Sweden closes last coal plant two years ahead of schedule
© istock

Sweden has shuttered its last remaining coal-fired power plant two years before its scheduled closure, making it the third European nation to transition away from coal, following Belgium and Austria.

The plant is located in eastern Stockholm and is run by Stockholm Exergi, which is partially owned by the city, according to The Independent. Stockholm Exergi called the closure a “milestone” and said it will halve the company’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Stockholm is on track to produce its district heating, the method of heating used in numerous European cities, entirely by renewable or recyclable energy, according to the publication.

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“This plant has provided the Stockholmers with heat and electricity for a long time — today we know that we must stop using all fossil fuels, therefore the coal needs to be phased out and we [did] so several years before the original plan,” Anders Egelrud, chief executive of Stockholm Exergi, said in a statement.

“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,” Egelrud added.  

Stockholm Exergi had previously been on track to end coal operations at the plant by 2022 but had already significantly scaled down coal output by last autumn, according to The Independent.

However, a milder-than-expected winter reduced demand for electricity, allowing the plant to close ahead of schedule. France, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy and Slovakia are projected to transition away from coal by 2025 at the latest.

“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,” Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director for Europe Beyond Coal, told industry publication PV Magazine.