The National Grid electricity system operator (ESO) has reiterated its commitment to phasing out coal power in the UK by joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA).
Great Britain’s ESO will join the 80+ existing members of the PPCA, a coalition of governments, businesses and organisations driving the global transition from coal power towards clean energy.
It is hoped that the move will further Britain’s progress in transitioning away from coal as the ESO aims to operate a zero-carbon electricity system by 2025.
The ESO director Fintan Slye said: ‘More renewable power generation is a trend that is here to stay. By 2025 we believe we will be able to operate the GB electricity system carbon free, an ambition we believe is world leading – so it’s only natural we are joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance.
‘We’ve been planning how to manage increasing levels of renewables for many years. This means that network investments have been made and grid operator services have been procured such that we can operate a network with no coal.
‘But it’s not without its challenges and initiatives like the PPCA, which encourage greater sharing and cooperation across the industry, are vital.’
The ESO is now the latest UK body to join the PPCA – the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments are already members, as are Scottish Power, SSE and Electricité de France (EDF), which together represent three of the UK’s ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers.
Britain’s electricity system has halved its carbon intensity in the last five years while 2019 is set to be its greenest year ever, with a record number of coal-free days and record levels of solar and wind generation.
In May of this year, the UK enjoyed its longest-ever period of coal-free electricity generation, lasting 18 days and 6 hours with coal-fired power.
During this time Britain’s electricity demands were met by generation through a mix of sources including gas, nuclear power, wind, biomass and solar.
Slye added: ‘Being able to run our system without coal for two weeks was only possible working in partnership across the industry, and we look forward to engaging with colleagues on a global stage to help the transition to cleaner forms of energy.’
The ESO is currently undertaking an innovation project called Distributed Restart, which is exploring how renewable generation could restore power if the electricity system is shut down.
If the project is successful, the ESO hopes that it will aid the speed of any potential system restart, further reducing the system’s reliance on coal.
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