BBC News reports that the United Kingdom might be spending its first day without generation of electricity from coal based energy, from a statement by the National Grid. The previous time for a no coal-generation of electricity was in May, 2016, for a total of 19 hours. The goal this time, however is to sustain that for a full 24 hours.
This is based on an increased demand and need for sustainable and renewable energy including natural gas. In addition, the power used for the United Kingdom tends to be low on Fridays.
The use of coal has declined since the 1990’s, with the advent of greater access to alternative fuels such as biomass. As of 2016, coal made up only 9% of electricity generation. In 2015, this number was much higher at 23%. The United Kingdom government wants to phase out the final plants of coal energy by 2025. This is in large part due to efforts for carbon emission reduction.
Professor of resources and environment policy at University College London, Paul Ekin, described the effects of the day without coal power as “enormously significant.” “As recently as the late 1980’s coal was supplying as much as 70% of UK electricity…We then had the dash for gas in the 1990;s, with nuclear roughly contributing around 25%, and coal dropped below 50%.”
Not only is this an important landmark in the history of the United Kingdom for the reduction of coal energy, but it is also a symbolic gesture as to the eventual elimination of coal power plants.
Ekin described that the “current thrust was to replace coal with gas, but that renewables like wind and solar were also playing a bigger role – accounting for 25% of supply in 2015.”
A large part of this reduction in coal based power is down to solar panels and wind turbines being used to generate electricity from factories and homes. In addition, the energy need has decreased.
Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, said the first day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution “would mark a watershed in the energy transition.’”