The UK is set to have its first ever working day without coal power generation since the Industrial Revolution, according to the National Grid,The Guardian reports.
The control room tweeted the predicted milestone on Friday, adding that it is also set to be the first 24-hour coal-free period in Britain. The UK has had shorter coal-free periods in 2016, as gas and renewables such as wind and solar play an increasing role in the power mix. The longest continuous period until now was 19 hours – first achieved on a weekend last May, and matched on Thursday.
A National Grid spokesman said the record low is a sign of things to come, with coal-free days becoming increasingly common as the polluting fuel is phased out.
Coal has seen significant declines in recent years, accounting for just 9% of electricity generation in 2016, down from around 23% the year before, as coal plants closed or switched to burning biomass such as wood pellets.
Britain’s last power station will be forced to close in 2025, as part of a government plan to phase out the fossil fuel to meet its climate change commitments.
Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, said: “The first day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution marks a watershed in the energy transition. A decade ago, a day without coal would have been unimaginable, and in 10 years’ time our energy system will have radically transformed again.
“The direction of travel is that both in the UK and globally we are already moving towards a low carbon economy. It is a clear message to any new government that they should prioritise making the UK a world leader in clean, green, technology.”
Ben Caldecott, director of the sustainable finance programme at the University of Oxford said:“The first country to use coal for electricity is now on the cusp of being the first major economy to completely phase it out. Doing so will improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions, and help attract investment into more reliable and secure alternatives.”