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Hungary establishes its Coal Region Committee to assist the transformation of Mátra power plant

The Coal Region Committee will be the first permanent platform supporting the coal phase-out in Hungary. The forum will provide input to the sustainable, environmentally friendly transformation of the Mátra Power Plant, the last remaining lignite power plant in the Hungarian electricity system.

“The Mátra power plant is currently the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in Hungary, at the same time it plays a prominent role in Hungarian electricity generation,” said State Secretary for the Development of Circular Economy, Energy and Climate Policy at the Ministry of Innovation and Technology, Attila Steiner.

The Mátra Power Plant, with a nameplate capacity of 950 megawatts (MW), is the second-largest power plant in Hungary – after Paks Nuclear Power Plant – providing for up to 14 per cent of the country’s electricity production. It also accounts for nearly 50 per cent of the total energy sector GHG emissions in Hungary.

Last week, at the first Global Summit of the Powering Past Coal Alliance the State Secretary announced that the Mátra power plant will be shut down five years earlier, in 2025 instead of 2030.

The transformation of the Mátra power plant is also a cornerstone of Hungary’s National Energy and Climate Plan. The goal of the project is to decarbonise the plant with a mix of renewable energy, energy storage and natural gas technologies and to close two associated open-cast lignite mines.

At the same time, the Mátra power plant employs more than 2,000 people and the operation of nearly a thousand local businesses depends on its activities. The transformation project also aims to mitigate the potential negative socio-economic, energy and environmental consequences of the lignite phase-out.

“We have to ensure that the sustainable transformation does not endanger the jobs and livelihood of small and medium-sized enterprises in the region, but creates opportunities to facilitate the transition,” the Secretary of State reminded.

The Coal Region Committee was established within the framework of the European Union project “LIFE-IP North-HU-Trans”. As the green vision of the power plant and efforts to phase out coal are in line with the EU’s energy and climate policy goals, Hungary can count on the EU’s financial support.

At the end of February, the Commission announced under the new LIFE programme 12 large-scale environment and climate projects will be supported from a budget of 121 million euros, including the transformation of Hungary’s Mátra power plant.

Hungary’s Coal Region Committee intends to establish a broad stakeholder network. The first meeting was attended by representatives of the local administration, representatives of the government, NGOs, stakeholder companies, higher education institutions to discuss the planned roadmap of the project.

Hungary now joined other six European countries (France, Portugal, Slovakia, the UK, Ireland and Italy) that are expected to exit coal by 2025.

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