Austria ends coal era and commits to more renewable energy

Austria became the second European country to eliminate coal power from its electricity grid and said it’s looking toward renewable energy to fuel future economic growth. Verbund AG closed its Mellach coal-fired district heating plant about 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Vienna, the state-controlled utility said Friday in a statement. Austria’s Environment and Infrastructure Ministry said eliminating coal will strengthen the country’s “economic independence” by reducing fossil-fuel imports and emissions.

“Coal power generation in Austria is history,” Verbund Chief Executive Officer Wolfgang Anzengruber said. “The future belongs to renewable energy.”

The Alpine country follows Belgium in completely eliminating generation from the dirtiest fossil fuel on its power grid. France, Sweden, Slovakia, Portugal, the U.K., Ireland and Italy also plan on exiting coal by 2025, according to data compiled by environmental advocates at Europe Beyond Coal.

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