Madrid approves Endesa’s request to close the last 2 units in operation
(sustanabilityenvironment.com) – By August 2024, the largest coal-fired power plant in Spain will close its doors. The 1.4 GW plant in As Pontes, Galicia, built in the second half of the 1970s, ends a year late, 2 of the 4 units are still active. One 856 MW plant at the site operates on liquefied natural gas with a combined cycle and will continue to operate.
The date comes after the coal-fired power plant remained active as a precaution during the energy crisis between 2021 and 2022 and then resumed operation for a few months between spring and summer this year in order to consume the residual coal. In September 2022, the Spanish Ministry of the Environment approved the closure of 2 of the 4 coal-fired units. With the green light to stop the last working units, the Endesa plant starts permanently at the closure.
Anticipating the coal phase out by 5 years
This is an important step for Spain, because it will allow the Iberian country to bring the coal phase out forward by 5 years. Madrid is committed to saying goodbye to coal by 2030. This is the official horizon, but in recent years the government has tried to accelerate especially for reasons related to the climate crisis.
To replace the coal-fired electricity generation of As Pontes, Spain aims to boost renewables. Endesa, the company that owns the plant, plans to replace fossil fuel with a series of clean energy projects including a 1 GW wind farm.
Very positive reactions from civil society. “Spain is already generating about 50% of its energy from renewable sources, and coal workers could have a bright future thanks to its right transition strategy. The fact that Spain wants to anticipate the elimination of coal by five years underlines how renewable energy is outperforming fossil fuels in terms of price, energy security and attractiveness”, said Alexandru Mustață, activist for Beyond Fossil Fuels.
“With the closure of As Pontes we can concretely say that coal is no longer necessary for Spain’s energy security. The government’s ambition to bring the elimination of coal from the country forward by five years and to massively increase the share of renewable energy in electricity production in line with the demands of civil society is the right approach”, said Carlota Ruiz, environmental lawyer at IIDMA.
At the end of 2021, Spain still had 4.1 GW of active coal plants, which produced about 6 TWh.