Portugal Power Plants Go Coal Free Long Before 2030 Deadline

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The last power plant in Portugal, the Pego plant finally stopped using coal as the last stock was used up. It marked the conclusion of the utilization of coal for producing electricity much before the 2030 official deadline.

The move was welcomed by environmental organizations. But they also warned that the use of other forms of fossil fuels as a replacement was not a long-term solution. Instead, the emphasis should be to rapidly upscale the capacity of Portugal’s renewable capacity in solar and wind, according to Francisco Ferreira, the president of Zero, the environmental group.

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Located in central Portugal, the Pego plant was the 2nd-biggest emitter of CO2. Run by energy and utility major Tejo Energia, it is the joint venture of Trust Energy, under the control of Engie and Marubeni. A minority stake in the plant is held by Endesa.

Europe Beyond Control chairman, Kathrin Gutmann said that the challenge lies in ensuring that we do not commit the error of substituting coal with unsustainable biomass or other fossil fuels,

Portugal sources around 65% of its electricity from renewable resources. But the nation still depends on the import of fossil fuels. Weeks before the last of the coal-fired electricity generation plants closed down, a dispute with the Portuguese government over nitrogen dioxide pollution was referred by the European Union to the European Court of Justice.

The other coal-powered power plant in Portugal to shut down was the Sines plant in January. The EU is still considering tightening the rules on the use of wood as a source of energy as it is still considered renewable.

Ferriera said that dumping coal and switching to another form of unsustainable source of energy was never the answer. Instead, nations should focus on upscaling their resources in solar and wind on a massive scale.

Ferriera said that it was a momentous day for Portugal, but the moment was being spoiled by the prospect of wood and biomass replacing as a source of fuel for Portugal’s power plants.

Transition To Sustainable Sources Of Power In Europe By Nations Other Than Portugal

Belgium stopped producing electricity from fossil fuels way back in 2016. They were followed by Sweden and Austria in 2021. France has assured it would halt using fossil fuels to produce electricity by 2022. By 2030, a dozen more European Union nations have pledged to stop the use of fossil fuels to produce electricity.

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Estonia, Latvia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Malta, and Luxembourg are among the European Union nations that never used fossil fuels for electricity, or ceased doing so long ago. Iceland, Switzerland, and Albania have also stopped the use of fossil fuels.

Germany has said that it will take time for them to stop the use of coal to produce electricity. They have asked until 2038 to stop the production of electricity. But the new coalition in Germany has promised renewed efforts to stay within the 2030 target.

Poland and Turkey have yet to set deadlines under the Paris Agreement which was ratified recently. They remain among the last countries in the world to do so.

Figures released by Europe Beyond Coal have revealed that only 50% of coal-power electric plants were shut down or will be before the close of the decade. Stopping the use of coal for power plants remains one of the vital elements in the war against climate change.

Back in Portugal, Pego might shift to biomass fuel. Marubeni and ENGIE, who jointly formed TrustEnergy, plan to convert to the use of wood pellets from coal. That would entail the use of 5M tons every year. this increase in demand would exceed the availability of resources.

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