Britain’s power grid notches up first coal-free week since the Industrial Revolution

8th May 2019 | Commercial Energy

Britain’s electricity grid has gone a full week without coal for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. The new record – the first coal-free week since use of the fossil fuel for electricity began in the 19th Century – was set at 1.24pm on Wednesday, a week after the last generator came off the system. The news comes just a couple of weeks after London was hit by 10 days of protests by Extinction Rebellion activists.

It comes just two years after Britain marked its first full day without coal, but National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) director, Fintan Slye, predicted coal-free generation will become the “new normal”. He said, “As more and more renewables come on to our energy system, coal-free runs like this are going to be a regular occurrence. We believe that by 2025 we will be able to fully operate Great Britain’s electricity system with zero carbon.


“Zero-carbon operation of the electricity system by 2025 means a fundamental change to how our system was designed to operate – integrating newer technologies right across the system – from large-scale offshore wind to domestic-scale solar panels to increased demand-side participation, using new smart digital systems to manage and control the system in real time. This will enable new technologies and removes barriers to ever increasing levels of renewables.”

The UK has broken its record and gone a whole week without using coal for power – over 1,000 total hours so far this year! We’re phasing out coal entirely by 2025 and on a path to become the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions. Government figures show that renewables – wind, solar, bioenergy and hydropower – accounted for a record 27.5% of electricity supplies in 2018.

Low-carbon generation, which also includes nuclear power, accounted for half of supplies (49.6%), a new record high for clean electricity. Coal, which the Government has pledged to bring off the system by 2025, fell to new lows in 2018, accounting for just 6% of UK power supplies, while gas made up 43.9% of the supply mix, down from 44.8% in 2017.

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