Denmark’s DONG Energy is the latest in a string of power companies that are shunning the use of coal in future generation fleets.

The company said on February 8 it will stop burning coal completely by 2023 in its power stations, replacing it with sustainable biomass. The measure is part of a company-wide transformation towards a “sustainable energy system.”

DONG Energy said it had already reduced its coal consumption by 73% since 2006 by slashing the number of power units that burn coal. During this time, the company also increased its share of biomass, converting all but two of its existing coal-fired power plants in Denmark to burn wood pellets and wood chips as fuel. These plants include: Herning Power Station, Avedøre Power Station, and more recently in 2016, Studstrup Power Station and Avedøre Power Station. This spring, the Skærbæk Power Station near Fredericia will begin burning wood chips full time.

Meanwhile, the company is exploring whether it should convert its two remaining coal plants—Asnæs and Esbjerg—to use wood chips as fuel instead of coal when existing heating agreements with customers expire at the end of 2017 and 2019.

“At the same time, the company has constructed more production capacity based on offshore wind than any other company in the world,” it said. “This means that in just one decade, DONG Energy will have gone from being one of the most coal-intensive utilities in Europe to being among the greenest energy companies in Europe.”

DONG Energy joins a number of companies that have committed to phase out coal-fired generation. Italian energy company Enel in March 2015 said it would phase out future investments in coal. Last September, AES Corp. said the company had no plans to build new coal-fired generation beyond two that are currently under construction. French firm ENGIE has also publicized a strategy to gradually end its coal activities, announcing in November 2016 that it would shutter the 1.6-GW Hazelwood coal generating station in Australia.

Also in November, Michigan-based DTE Energy said the company planned to phase out coal. Other U.S. companies that have publicized their coal exits are El Paso Electric and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, the largest municipal utility in the U.S.


Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)