Environmental group Zero said in a statement that the Pego plant in central Portugal had been the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the country, adding that “freeing ourselves from the largest source of greenhouse gases was a momentous day for Portugal”.
The move comes nine years before Portugal’s planned end of fossil fuel use by 2030.
Belgium, Austria and Sweden are the other three European countries that have already stopped using coal for power generation.
Although a considerable 60% -70% of its electricity comes from renewable sources, Portugal still relies heavily on imported fossil fuels to meet general energy needs.
There are concerns that the Pego plant, run by private group Tejo Energia, could now be converted to burn wood pellets.
“The challenge now is to ensure that utilities do not make the mistake of replacing coal with unsustainable fossil gas or biomass,” said Kathrin Gutmann, Europe Beyond Coal campaign manager.
“Leaving coal alone to switch to the next worst fuel is clearly not an answer,” Zero president Francisco Ferreira said. “Instead, the focus should be on rapidly increasing our renewable energy capacity into wind and solar power.”
A draft document seen by Reuters in June showed that the EU was considering tightening the rules on whether wood-burning energy could be classified as renewable.