Portugal shuts last coal-fired power plant

Coal-fired thermal plant in Pego. Image credit: Endesa

Portugal has announced the closing of its only remaining coal plant, Pego, thereby becoming the fourth country in Europe to complete a coal phase-out, alongside Belgium, Austria and Sweden.

The plant closure occurred ahead of schedule and marks the conclusion of Portugal’s shift away from coal, which began with the signing of a phase-out declaration at COP23 in 2017.

The announcement has received a positive response from various climate groups, such as Portuguese environmental group Zero, having been quoted as stating: “Freeing ourselves from the biggest source of greenhouse gases was a momentous day for Portugal”.

“Portugal is the perfect example of how once a country commits to quitting coal, the pace of the phase-out inevitably accelerates. The benefits of transitioning to renewables are so great, once started, it only makes sense to get out of coal as fast as possible,” said Kathrin Gutmann, Europe Beyond Coal campaign director.

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“Coal’s dire economics and public desire for climate action are driving faster and faster phaseouts across Europe. The challenge now is to ensure utilities do not make the mistake of replacing coal with fossil gas, or unsustainable biomass.”

The Pego Thermal Power Plant achieved full commercial operation in October 1995. It has an installed capacity of 628MW and features two units, each equipped with a steam generator, one turbine-generator unit and a main transformer.

Plant owner Endesa is considering turning the plant into one that burns wood pellets, according to Reuters.

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