Hungary will close Matra, its last remaining coal-fired power plant, in 2025 – five years earlier than initially planned. It has a capacity of 884 MW.
Hungary is now one of twelve European countries that have developed a coal phaseout plan, joining Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom. Austria, Belgium, and Sweden are already coal-free, and 10 countries had no coal in the power mix from before.
There are 13 countries in Europe that are yet to declare a coal phaseout
There are 13 countries in Europe that are yet to declare a coal phaseout: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo*, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Spain and North Macedonia. According to the Beyond Coal campaign, coal phaseout discussions are currently underway in the Czech Republic, Spain and North Macedonia.
Hungarian President János Áder announced the country’s original plan to exit coal by 2030 at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York in 2019.
Hungary’s decision to halve the time it would take to exit coal tells you everything you need to know about the state of Europe’s collapsing coal industry
The latest move was revealed by Hungary’s Secretary of State for the Development of Circular Economy, Energy and Climate Policy, Attila Steiner, at a meeting of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, the campaign said on its website.
The closure announcement of Matra means 157 of Europe’s 324 coal plants have now retired or have been announced to retire before 2030.
Europe Beyond Coal campaign director Kathrin Gutmann said the Hungarian government’s decision to halve the time it would take to exit coal tells you everything you need to know about the state of Europe’s collapsing coal industry.
“Half of Europe’s coal countries are either already coal-free or have a UN Paris climate agreement aligned, pre-2030 coal phaseout plan, and it’s quickly becoming a trend to fast-track coal exits once announced. It shows that when governments actually stop and look at the cold hard economic and political realities of coal, not only do they want to get rid of it – they decide to do so as quickly as possible,” Gutmann said.
Natural gas, solar to replace coal
The announcement to close Matra includes the country’s plans for new power plants in order to compensate for the lost power production and the jobs that would be lost. A 200 MW solar farm is planned, but also a 500 MW natural gas plant, according to the Beyond Coal campaign.
Andras Perger, Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace CEE, said the government’s announcement fulfils the minimum criteria of their demands.
“However, this move is linked to the commissioning of a new fossil gas power station, which is unacceptable. You cannot fight climate change with new fossil power stations. Furthermore, it is also worrying that the announcement said nothing about the already licensed plans for extending the lignite mine in the vicinity of the power station,” Perger added.