Sweden has become the third European country to eliminate coal from electricity production, after its last coal power plant permanently closed two years ahead of schedule last week. Stockholm Exergi AB’s Värtaverket plant closed its coal-fired cogeneration plant, calling it “a milestone” for clean energy in Sweden. “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 company said in a statement dated 16 April.
Europe Beyond Coal, a green campaign group that keeps track of coal phase-out plans across Europe, celebrated the move, which came just after the closure of the last coal plant in Austria.
“With Sweden going coal free in the same week as Austria, the downward trajectory of coal in Europe is clear,” said Kathrin Gutmann, a green activist at Europe Beyond Coal.
The plant in Stockholm was closed at the end of the heating season, which Exergi AB said came earlier than planned. “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,” Exergi AB said in a statement.
Austria last week announced it would permanently close its last coal-fired plant, which powered a district heating network in the municipality of Mellach, south of Graz.
Belgium was the first EU country to end coal, in 2016. With the Swedish and Austrian move, there are now three EU countries that have officially quit coal for residential heating and power generation.
Seven more countries are expected to end coal by 2025: France (2022), Sweden (2022), Slovakia (2023), Portugal (2023), the UK (2024), Ireland (2025) and Italy (2025), according to Europe Beyond Coal. They are expected to be followed by Greece (2028), the Netherlands (2029), Finland (2029), Hungary (2030), and Denmark (2030). Discussions are currently underway in the Czech Republic, Spain and North Macedonia about when to exit coal-fired electricity.
Germany has announced it will put its last coal plant offline by 2038, a commitment that still has to be firmed up in the country’s coal exit law.