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Two Years Early, Sweden Shuts Down Its Final Coal-Fired Power Plant

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It seems like a lot of countries are falling behind on their climate goals lately, and Sweden is currently putting them all to shame — and that’s not only because the Nordic country produced Greta Thunberg. Sweden just shut down its last remaining coal-fired power plant, two years before it was scheduled to close.

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The coal-fired cogeneration plant KVV6 at Värtaverket, located in Hjorthagen in eastern Stockholm, has been in operation since 1989, according to Stockholm Exergi, the local energy company that owns the plant. Stockholm Exergi is equally owned by the municipality of Stockholm and Fortum, a Finnish energy company that operates across Europe and Asia.

As Stockholm Exergi explained, before the winter of 2019-2020, the company shut down one of KVV6’s two boilers, and converted the other to a power reserve. Because the winter wound up being mild, Stockholm Exergi did not need to use energy from the reserves, meaning the company was able to close the plant down this month, rather than in 2022 as planned.

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Additionally, there is a chance that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on Sweden’s recent energy use. For example, Britain just beat its personal record of going more than 18 days without using coal-powered electricity, thanks in part to the recent mild weather, but more interestingly, due to people needing less power during the coronavirus pandemic. With many areas on lockdown, people are using less electricity and driving cars less, reducing dependence on fuel overall.

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Source: Oliver Berg/picture alliance via Getty Images
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“Our goal is for all our production to come from renewable or recycled Exergi,” Anders Egelrud, CEO of Stockholm Exergi, said in a translated statement. “This plant has provided the Stockholmers with heat and electricity for a long time, today we know that we must stop using all fossil fuels, therefore the coal needs to be phased out and we do so several years before the original plan.”

“Since Stockholm was almost totally fossil-dependent 30-40 years ago, we have made enormous changes and now we are taking the step away from carbon dependency and continuing the journey towards an energy system entirely based on renewable and recycled energy,” Egelrud added.

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In 2018, 54.6 percent of the energy used in Sweden came from renewable sources, according to the Swedish Energy Agency. While that is still pretty far from the country’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy, Sweden is far ahead of many other countries. For example, in 2018, renewable energy sources only accounted for 11 percent of U.S. energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

As reported by The Independent, Sweden is the third country in Europe to cut off its reliance on coal. Belgium closed its last coal power plant in 2016, according to Climate Change News, and Austria said Auf Wiedersehen to its last remaining coal-fired power station earlier this April, as per CNBC. Hopefully now that three European countries no longer have coal-fired power plants, other nations across Europe — and all over the world — will ramp up efforts to do the same.

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