Portugal shuts down last coal plant beating 2030 fossil fuel deadline

Energy & Climate Change

Portugal has shut down its remaining coal plant joining Belgium, Austria and Sweden in the list of European countries who've stopped using coal for power production.

The above is according to a release on Portguese environmental NGO Zero's website. They outline that the Pego Thermoelectric Plant was the second largest responsible for carbon dioxide emissions in Portugal, making up 4 per cent of the country's emissions.

The move comes many years ahead of the country's target to end the use of fossil fuels by 2030.

Zero outline the prospect that Pego may reopen at some stage using alternative fuel sources, with biomass touted as one of them.

However, the NGO argue that the plant 'should only take into account projects that result from the use of truly renewable energy sources' which they argue biomass isn't 'given the scarcity of residual forest biomass in national territory'.

“Freeing ourselves from our biggest source of greenhouse gases is a momentous day for Portugal. But it is soured by the prospect of the plant being converted to burn forests,” Zero's president Francisco Ferreira said. “Ditching coal only to switch to the next worst fuel is clearly not an answer. Instead, the focus should be on rapidly upscaling our renewable energy capacity in wind and solar.”

"The challenge now is to ensure utilities do not make the mistake of replacing coal with fossil gas, or unsustainable biomass," added Europe Beyond Coal campaign director Kathrin Gutmann.

Earlier this year in its new energy policy review for the country the International Energy Agency (IEA) argued that Portugal is well placed for reaching a carbon-neutral economy, supporting the country’s economic growth and energy security.

“I congratulate Portugal for developing a broad policy framework with robust measures to achieve emission reductions,” IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol said at the time. “Portugal has found a good balance of ambitious targets and competitive support measures needed to drive a cost-effective energy transition.”

Among these frameworks is the National Hydrogen Strategy which sets a goal for hydrogen produced from renewable energy to cover 1.5-2 per cent of Portugal’s energy demand by 2030.

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