Great Britain went 432 hours in May without using coal for electricity generation, a tweet by the National Grid ESO (NGESO) reports.
The streak ended after 18 days and 60 hours due to plant availability and system requirements, the country’s electricity system operator said.
According to NGESO, the British record for solar power use was also broken last month, as on May 14 a quarter of the energy was generated from the sun in a country where solar installed capacity is over 13GW. The BBC reports that the utility company expects these occurrences to become the new normal.
When coal is off, gas, nuclear, wind and other sources take over the power generation job.
The UK’s push to move away from coal-fired power stations and bring more renewables online has been taking place since the country announced, in the context of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, its plans to phase out the last operative plants over the span of 10 years.
The application is set to start on October 1, 2025, and the strategy contemplates an emission limit of up to 450 grams of CO2 for each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced, which would force many plants to close unless they are fitted with carbon capture technology.
The share of coal in the United Kingdom’s electricity mix, according to the Beyond Coal movement, sits currently at about 9% — down from 40% in 2015. The downward trend started in 2013 when Britain introduced a tax on CO2 emissions from power plants.
You have absolutely nailed the reason for coals decline. The establishment of punitive taxes against coal and subsidies for renewables. The honey will always follow the money.
What you fail to mention are some other facts. That the retail price for electricity that consumers and industry have to pay have increased substantially, that a good portion of coals replacement has come from gas (also a fossil fuel), and wood chips (how can burning trees be more eco-friendly than burning coal?) and from a Channel inter-connector with Europe where they still burn coal!
Also not mentioned is the massive drop in electrical energy consumption over that last 10 years. Now why would this be in a country with a growing population? Because all those energy hungry industries have departed Britain for Asia where cheap coal fired power still abounds.