New UK Coal-Free Record Over Easter Weekend
The UK broke its coal-free electricity generation record over the Easter Weekend for the second April in a row. This time the country went more than ninety continuous hours without burning coal to produce electricity. The previous record of seventy-six hours and ten minutes was set last April.
The nigh on four-day period concluded on Monday afternoon, April 22nd. National Grid subsequently confirmed the weekend as the longest coal-free period of electricity generation since the industrial revolution.
Solar Power Helps Break Coal-Free Record
The Director of Operations at National Grid, Duncan Burt, spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live, saying:
“It is all about the sunny weather we’ve been seeing, so energy demand is low. There has been lots of lovely solar power off the panels too.”
Solar photovoltaic panels have been a popular choice for both residential and commercial properties in recent years. In combination with an energy storage system, solar power can generate electricity to be used all year round. Sunny periods will obviously generate more energy, with the systems able to store it for use at a later date. Alternatively, both residential and commercial property owners can sell any surplus energy to the grid.
Coal Power Being Phased Out
The pollution caused by burning coal must be eliminated, with current plans have it phased it out entirely by 2025. National Grid reports have revealed that coal already makes up less than a tenth of the country’s entire energy production. Coal’s percentage of the energy mix will continue to fall until it is eliminated entirely.
This will result in the last seven coal-fired power stations will be forced to close by this date. The last seven coal stations include the Killroot station in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. There is also one coal-fired power station in Aberthaw in the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales. The other five coal stations are in England, with three in the Nottinghamshire towns of West Burton, Cottam and Ratcliffe-on-Soar. The remaining two are located in the town of Warrington in Cheshire and the village of Drax in North Yorkshire.
Three of the seven plan to close by 2019, while another three do not as yet have plans to close. The Drax power station currently plans to convert to gas and battery storage.
Government Criticised For Undermining Green Initiatives
National Grid’s Mr Burt described the new coal-free record as a ‘really big deal’ with regard to helping reduce pollution. However, the Government has come under fire for undermining the good work by green lighting multiple fracking proposals. The Labour Party has strongly criticised the Government’s for the number of fracking proposals they have given the green light. The Opposition claim these fracking operations will release greenhouse gas equivalent to the emissions from twenty-nine coal power stations.
The criticism certainly seems justified as this Government has previously buried reports stating that fracking does indeed increase emissions. A report saying that fracking increases air pollution in 2015 was only published in 2018, days after another key fracking permit was granted.
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