Sustainable Energy

Austria's last coal-fired power station closes as the country pushes renewables

Key Points
  • The Austrian government has set itself ambitious renewable energy goals. 
  • The last few months have seen a number of coal-fired plants close.
Natalya Danko | EyeEm | Getty Images

In a move welcomed by environmental organizations, Austria's last operational coal-fired power station has shut down.

The Mellach facility, in the province of Styria, had generated electricity and heat for 34 years, according to Austrian utility Verbund. Its closure, announced Friday, comes as the Austrian government attempts to meet its target of producing 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030.

"Austria is ending coal burning, while supporting the uptake of renewable energy and the European Green New Deal," Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director at Europe Beyond Coal, said in a statement reacting to the news. "This is a great example of the path to healthier, cleaner, and more resilient societies," Gutmann added.

The EU released details of its "European Green Deal" last December, describing it as a "roadmap" to make the bloc's economy sustainable. One of the plan's key aims is for the EU to be climate neutral by the year 2050.

According to Europe Beyond Coal, 15 countries in Europe have unveiled plans for the phase out of coal used for electricity production since 2016.

The last few months have seen a number of coal-fired plants close. In the U.K. for instance, two coal-fired facilities operated by SSE and RWE shut down on the same day at the end of March. In February, energy firm Drax said coal-fired electricity production at the U.K.'s largest power plant was expected to end in March 2021.

The U.K. government is aiming to remove coal from Britain's energy system by 2025. It recently announced it would consult on moving that deadline to October 1, 2024. According to the government, Britain's reliance on coal for electricity has fallen from 70% in 1990 to under 3% today.