Austria completes its withdrawal from coal-fired power

30. June 2020

 

Austria is one of the first EU countries to pull out of coal-fired electricity production. The last remaining power plant was closed down in April 2020. Austria's largest electricity supplier VERBUND is building an innovation centre for renewable energy on the site, together with the support of the Green Tech Cluster. EU-wide, CO2 emissions from electrical power production fell by 120 million tonnes (12%) last year, which was the strongest drop since 1990.


 

Austria’s last coal-fired power plant has been shut down

EU-wide, CO2 emissions from electrical power production fell by 120 million tonnes (12%) last year, which was the strongest drop since 1990. In particular, the increased charge for CO2 makes electricity generation from coal less profitable, and this is reflected in the decrease in coal-fired output of 150 terawatt hours (24%).

“The closure of the last coal-fired power plant is an historic step: As a result, Austria has finally withdrawn from coal-fired power and therefore taken a further step towards phasing out fossil fuels. We will have converted Austria to 100 percent green electricity by 2030. Our energy systems will be clean, affordable and, above all, rebuilt to be safe. This will also bring us economic independence: We currently spend ten billion euros per annum on imports of coal, oil and gas. I am pleased to see the lead VERBUND is taking in withdrawing from coal and showing just what we can achieve when we create a clean future together,” commented Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler.

“Today we have reached a major milestone: Austria has moved one step further towards climate neutrality. Once again, business has shown how it can be a powerful collaborator in the fight against climate change. Because the ambitious goals that we have set ourselves can only be achieved if all of us pull together. In closing the last coal-fired power plant, Austria is showing the way towards a sustainable future and is becoming a role model for others in Europe. Transforming the site into a location for innovation is a perfect example of how to form a path from the world of fossil fuel to a renewable and innovative future,” said State Secretary at the Environment Ministry Magnus Brunner.

“Coal-fired power generation is now history in Austria. The future belongs to renewable energy and in the coming years VERBUND will continue to make a significant contribution to the target of 100 percent green electricity,” commented VERBUND CEO, Wolfgang Anzengruber. The last coal-fired power plant produced electricity and district heating for the Styrian capital of Graz for 34 years, and in the future using natural gas it can be used as a short-term power supply support to the national grid. “Along the path from the old to the new economy, Mellach remains an important location for us and presents an ideal set of conditions for the development of technologies for the future.”

 

A location for energy of the future

Located centrally, south of Graz, and connected by road and rail as well as to the national grid, Mellach is now being developed into an innovation hub. Under the name of Hotflex, a pilot plant has been built for high-temperature electrolysis and fuel cell operation that converts electricity into hydrogen. Also at the site, tests are being carried out on large-scale battery storage systems for use as buffer storage with, for example, ultra-fast charging stations for e-mobility.

 

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