Portugal is the fourth country in Europe to eliminate coal in electricity production. Its remaining coal plant, Pego, closed ten days ahead of schedule. Portugal’s decision to accelerate the coal phase-out is a consequence of its national energy and global climate plan, which highlights renewables and aligns with European carbon neutral targets. The move follows in the footsteps of Belgium (2016) and Austria and Sweden (2020) and comes nine years before Portugal’s targeted end of the use of fossil fuel by 2030.
“Portugal is the perfect example of how once a country commits to quitting coal, the pace of the phase-out inevitably accelerates. The benefits of transitioning to renewables are so great, once started, it only makes sense to get out of coal as fast as possible,” said Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director at environmental non-governmental organization Europe Beyond Coal.
Portugal has no coal, oil, or gas production and has invested in green energy in recent decades. The country’s shift away from coal began when it signed a phase-out declaration at COP23 (2017) in Bonn, Germany, and the plant closure happened five years ahead of the original schedule.
Coal’s dire economics and public desire for climate action drive faster and faster phase-outs across Europe, with momentum continuing to build: 21 countries are either coal-free or in possession of the coal phase-out plan. The challenge now is to ensure utilities do not replace coal with fossil gas or unsustainable biomass.
According to Europe Beyond Coal, five more European countries are expected to stop using coal by 2025: France (2022), Slovakia (2023), the United Kingdom (2024), Ireland (2025), and Italy (2025).
The European Coal Plant Countdown tallies all coal plants in the European Union, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and the Western Balkan countries that since January 2016 have retired or announced plans to retire plants by 2030. In addition, it lists all active new coal projects. It considers projects – not based on units or gigawatts – and seeks to verify decommissioning before including a plant.
Portugal’s economic growth strategy emphasizes sustainability, innovation and digital transformation to reinforce its position as one of Europe’s great innovation hubs and top investment destinations.