Britain Breaks 137-Year Coal Power Record
This month saw Britain pass one whole week without coal power for the first time since 1882. No coal was used to generate electricity for the entire first week of May, breaking a 137 year old record.
The coal-free week comes just a couple of years after Britain went one whole day coal-free. That day was the first significant coal-free period since the Industrial Revolution.
According to the National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO), coal generators came completely offline in the early afternoon of May 1st. They only began generating power again at the same time the following week. The breaking of the long standing record signals the Government’s intent to phase out all coal powered electricity by 2025.
2025 Target Requires ‘Fundamental Change’
The Government’s target is achievable, according to the director of the NGESO, Fintan Slye. However, he told The Guardian that he believed Britain’s electricity system needs a redesign to incorporate newer and cleaner technologies.
“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,” said Mr Slye.
Mr Slye was also keen to state that more coal-free periods were on the way. He added, “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. This will enable new technologies and removes barriers to ever-increasing levels of renewables.”
Coal-Free Week a ‘Huge Leap Forward’ says Government
The Government’s Business Secretary, Greg Clark, was rather pleased with the achievement. He claimed the UK is on the way to becoming the first major economy to legislate for net-zero emissions. Mr Clark said, “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.
“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.”
While the ambition is admirable, there are already rumbles that the Government must do more to meet this 2025 target. Recent policy changes by the Government have seen some clean energy projects lose funding and support. That is a trend that will have to stop, and thankfully there has been genuine progress in that regard.
The recent Offshore Wind Sector Deal should attract a lot more investment towards those clean energy technology development projects. However, investment in both offshore and onshore renewable energy projects will be necessary too.
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