Coal power plants have remained turned off for a full two months as of today, with the UK’s energy demand being provided by cleaner sources, such as solar and wind power.
As of the time of writing, the National Grid has been coal-free for 61 days and eight hours, a new record. This comes as demand for electricity has reduced due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the better-than-usual weather in May that fueled solar power generation.
“The exact two-month mark is midnight tonight (00:00 on Wednesday 10 June), which will mark 61 days (or 1,464 hours) since the last coal generator came off the system,” a spokesman for National Grid’s Electricity System Operator said.
The UK has been weaning itself off of coal-generated electricity, with the National Grid recording lower and lower carbon emissions each and every year. It’s anticipated that all of the UK’s coal power plants will be decommissioned by 2024, although it seems that the country’s demand for coal is already at an all-time low.
In 2012, coal made up one-third of UK energy generation as it was cheap and plentiful. Now, environmental concerns have taken top priority and more renewable energy sources have come online – including solar farms, as well as both onshore and offshore wind farms. In Q3 2019, renewable energy sources overtook fossil fuels as the largest contributor to electricity generation in the UK.
It’s expected that the UK will continue to see a greater proportion of its energy needs provided by renewable sources. Sites such as the Cleve Hill Solar Park just outside of Faversham, Kent, promise a big boost to power generation from renewables – with Cleve Hill expected to contribute 350MW of electricity to the National Grid, enough to power 90,000 homes.
The UK isn’t alone in weaning itself off of coal, however. The US has also seen a decline in energy produced from coal, with renewables overtaking coal-fueled power generation for the first time in 130 years. That’s despite President Trump’s support of the technology, falsely claiming that coal is ‘clean’.