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Austria Returns to Coal Era in Hedge Against Russian Power Play

  • Verbund told to resurrect Mellach coal plant for generation
  • Decision made after Russia restricts natural gas exports
The Verbund AG combined cycle gas turbine power plant, right, alongside Austria’s last coal-fired power station, in Mellach. 

The Verbund AG combined cycle gas turbine power plant, right, alongside Austria’s last coal-fired power station, in Mellach. 

Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

Austria is returning to the coal age, reviving use of the dirtiest fossil fuel to generate power as Russia curbs flows of natural gas to Europe.

State-controlled Verbund AG, Austria’s biggest utility and most valuable company, was ordered late Sunday to prepare its mothballed Mellach coal-fired station for operation. The plant, 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Vienna, was shut two years ago as Austria became only the second European country to eliminate coal entirely from its electricity grid.