Environmental group Zero said in a statement that the Pego plant in central Portugal was the country’s second largest emitter of carbon dioxide, adding that “liberating itself from its biggest source of greenhouse gases was an important day for Portugal”.
The move comes nine years ahead of Portugal’s targeted end of fossil fuel use by 2030.
Belgium, Austria and Sweden are the other three European countries that have stopped using coal for electricity generation.
Although 60%-70% of its electricity comes from renewable sources, Portugal still relies heavily on imported fossil fuels to meet its overall energy needs.
There are concerns over the Pego plant, operated by privately held conglomerate Tejo Energy, now that it can be converted into wood pellets.
“The challenge now is to ensure that utilities do not make the mistake of replacing coal with fossil gas, or volatile biomass,” said Catherine Gutmann, campaign director for Europe Beyond Coal.
“Ditching coal to just switch to the next worst fuel is clearly not an answer,” said Zero’s president Francisco Ferreira. “Instead, the focus should be on rapidly increasing our renewable energy capacity in wind and solar.”
A draft document seen by Reuters in June showed the European Union was considering tightening rules on whether wood-burning energy could be classified as renewable.
Credit : www.cnn.com