A coal free future? The UK has just completed its first week without any domestic coal generation on the power grid since before the Industrial Revolution, marking a significant milestone in its low-carbon energy transition.
The National Grid revealed today (8 May) that the UK’s domestic electricity grid has been operating coal-free, without any energy generated through coal plants within the nation since 1.42pm last Wednesday (1 May), when the last generator came off the system for a temporary shutdown.
Coal has historically been at the cornerstone of the UK’s electricity mix since the 19th century but now accounts for less than 10% of national power output.
As a result, the UK has broken its coal-free generation record several times in recent times. Last month, the electricity grid operated for almost 92 hours with no domestically generated coal-fired power, far exceeding the previous record of 76 hours, which was set between 21 and 24 April 2018.
While there are seasonal factors at play, accounting for the long performed temporary shutdowns of coal plants during lower demand periods in spring, it is worth noting that the first three months of 2019 saw the UK electricity grid clock up 650 hours of coal-free generation – more than was achieved during the entirety of 2017. A further 350 hours of coal-free generation have been recorded so far in Q2.
“Going a week without coal for the first time since the Industrial Revolution is a huge leap forward in our world-leading efforts to reduce emissions, but we’re not stopping there,” Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said.
“To combat climate change and seize on the opportunities of clean growth, we’re phasing out coal entirely by 2025 and building a cleaner, greener energy system.”
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