According to statistics released last week from National Grid, Britain has now gone 114 continuous hours without burning coal to generate electricity, smashing the previous record of 90 hours. This is the longest period since the Industrial Revolution and is set to keep on rising.
In total, Britain has gone 1,000 hours without using coal to generate electricity in 2019 and is on track to break all previous records for coal-free power generation, according to new independent figures.
Since the start of the year Great Britain has only used 2.9 Twh (terawatt hours) compared with 8.6 Twh by this point in 2018 – a drop of almost two thirds. At the current rate the UK looks set to far surpass the 1,800 hours of coal-free power generated over the whole of 2018.
According to a spokesperson for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: “Decarbonising our energy system is a crucial part of our commitment to ending our contribution to global warming. This year we’ve already reached the major milestone of 1,000 hours without using coal to power our homes and industry.
“We’re closing in on phasing out coal entirely from our power system by 2025 as our renewables sector goes from strength to strength on our path to becoming the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions.”
The achievement is another major milestone in the UK Government’s continued efforts to achieve net zero carbon emissions and follows the recent publication of the Committee on Climate Change’s report on how this can be achieved. In response to the report, Business Secretary Greg Clark said the UK is now on a path to becoming the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming entirely.
The Government has put using clean technology to generate electricity at the heart of the Industrial Strategy through the Clean Growth Grand Challenge.
This will build on the transformation in the energy sector that has contributed to the whole of the UK cutting its emissions by 42% since 1990 while growing the economy by more than two thirds – the best performance of any G7 nation.
The UK is also the first country to introduce long-term legally-binding climate reduction targets and has cut emissions further than all other G20 countries.
The Government’s ongoing support for renewable energy has seen a boost in clean energy entering the grid. Statistics released in March showed low-carbon generation provided a record 53% of UK-wide electricity generation in 2018 while use of coal for power generation has dropped by nearly 90% since 2012.
In addition, in 2017 the government committed to phasing out unabated coal power by 2025 and launched the international Powering Past Coal Alliance – a voluntary coalition of governments, businesses and other organisations committed to ending the use of dirty coal power, which now has 80 members, including the South Chungcheong province in South Korea – home to half of the country’s coal power generation.