The nation has officially ended its capacity to regularly produce electricity from coal, making it the second country in Europe to do so.
The final power plant remaining in operation, the government owned Verbund Mellach facility, was switched to a backup role last month. The facility was built in 1986 and closes after years of campaigning by Global 2000, an Austrian NGO encouraging an exit from fossil fuels and a focus on renewables into the future.
“With Austria going coal free today it becomes clear that the momentum to leave coal behind has not slowed, despite the significant health and economic challenges we’re facing,” said Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director for Europe Beyond Coal, in a statement.
“Austria is ending coal burning, while supporting the uptake of renewable energy and the European Green New Deal. This is a great example of the path to healthier, cleaner, and more resilient societies.”
Austria is now the second European country to end coal use for electricity generation, following the example set by Belgium in 2016. Another seven countries are expected to take similar action by 2025 or earlier, including France, Sweden, Slovakia, Portugal, the UK, Ireland and Italy.
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. The nation will now pivot to renewable energy generation to fuel future economic growth.