Britain achieves first ever coal-free day ‘since Industrial Revolution’

Energy sources such as gas, wind, solar and nuclear allowed Britain to keep things switched on for 24 hours without the use of coal-fired power plants.

Last Friday (21 April 2017) saw Britain’s energy demand be met without the use of coal power for the first time since the industrial revolution, according to National Grid.

Prior to this, the UK’s longest period without coal power had been 19 hours – achieved both on a weekday and weekend in May 2016.

A spokesman for National Grid said the record period was a demonstration of things to come, with coal-free days becoming more common.

Inrecent years, coal has significantly decreased, accounting for only 9% of electricity generation in 2016, down from 23% in 2015, as coal power plants have closed or shifted to burning biomass such as wood pellets.

Britain was the first country to make use of coal for electricity when Thomas Edison opened the Holborn Viaduct power station in London in 1882.

Now, as part of a government plan, Britain’s last coal power station will be forced to close in 2025, to meet its climate change commitments.

“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”, says Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK.

She added: “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.”

Head of climate and energy at WWF, Gareth Redmond-King, described Britain’s first coal-free day as “a significant milestone in our march towards the green economic revolution”.

“Getting rid of coal from our energy mix is exciting and hugely important. But it’s not enough to achieve our international commitments to tackle climate change – we haven’t made anything like the same progress on decarbonising buildings and transport. Whoever forms the next government after the general election, they must prioritise a plan for reducing emissions from all sectors.” He added.

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