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Finland plans to phase out the use of coal by 2015


American Electric Power's (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant includes a carbon capture unit (center R), alongside the plant's cooling tower and stacks.


Saul Loeb

Kicking coal for good? Finland is thinking about it, in a move that could make the Nordic state the first European country to stop using coal in energy production.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Finnish economy minister Jyri Haekaemies mentioned the move at a parliamentary debate.

“I think we could set a target for Finland phasing out coal use as the first country in Europe, for instance by 2025,” he said on Friday.

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BusinessWeek reports that the country will focus on investing in renewable energy to meet their goal. Finland imports all of its coal, primarily from nearby Russia and Poland.

Finland annually ships in around 5 million tons of coal at a cost of around 70 to 388 million euros or $388 million, says the Finnish Coal Association, which feels that responsibly-used coal should continue to be an energy source.

Coal consumption is diminishing in Finland, according to the government: consumption of hard coal decreased by 39 percent from January to June of this year, says Statistics Finland.

The Inkoo coal-fired power plant in Finland, operated by Fortum Power and Heat Oy, has a capacity of 1000 MW and attempts to use some sustainable techniques, according to its website.

Coal is well-known as a major factor in air pollution, global warming, smog and other dangerous environmental effects, and is not a sustainable or renewable resource, critics point out.