Sweden Closes Its Last Remaining Coal Plant Two Years Ahead Of Schedule

Stockholm Exergi recently announced the closure of KVV6, Sweden's last coal-fired co-generation plant, as reported by PV Magazine. The announcement came one day before Austria confirmed the permanent closure of its last remaining coal plant, bringing the total number of coal-free European countries up to three. Belgium was the first to phase out coal back in 2016.

Kathrin Gutmann, the campaign director behind Europe Beyond Coal, applauded the plant closures and what they will mean for the fight against climate change.

"With Sweden going coal-free in the same week as Austria, the downward trajectory of coal in Europe is clear. Against the backdrop of the serious health challenges we are currently facing, leaving coal behind in exchange for renewables is the right decision and will repay us in kind with improved health, climate protection, and more resilient economies."
Sweden had originally pledged to be coal-free by 2022. However since KVV6 had not been used during the mild 2019-2020 winter and the decision was taken to shut it down permanently. The plant, located in Stockholm's Hjorthagen neighborhood, was originally opened in 1989.

Stockholm Exergi CEO Anders Egelrud stated that Stockholm was almost entirely dependent on carbon-based fuels in the 80s and 90s, but that this is no longer the case. He believes that the capital is now ready to move on from carbon dependence and instead focus on renewable energy. He also stated that carbon neutral solutions shouldn't be the only consideration when combating emissions and climate change. He highlighted that, in line with current research findings, carbon-negative solutions will be equally as important as carbon-neutral options in reducing the impact of emissions.

"We continue to work on the transition to climate-neutral solutions and also solutions to create negative emissions. Here, the researchers agree: We don't only need to reduce our emissions to zero but also to develop techniques to specifically reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere."

Wind turbines behind a solar panel park
GettyImages | Sean Gallup

The Swedish capital aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 and the early closure of the KVV6 plant is expected to cut emissions in half -- from 882,000 to 992,000 tons a year down to approximately 441,000 tons a year, as reported by EcoWatch.

Along with the closure of Austria's last coal plant, Sweden's new coal-free status helps to further current EU plans to tackle the climate crisis and move away from coal power entirely. Six more nations have already pledged to follow this example by 2025, and another five aim to reach the milestone by 2030, as per the current climate commitments within the Paris Agreement. Germany, in contrast, is unlikely to move on from coal power until 2038 and remains the world's largest producer of the fuel.