Data from the National Grid has shown that no coal was used in electricity generation in Great Britain between 10:25 pm on Monday until 5:10 am on Thursday, breaking the previous record of 40.5 hours set in October last year.
The UK government has pledged to phase out coal power by 2025.
There are currently eight working coal power stations remaining in the UK; Drax and Eggborough in North Yorkshire; Ratcliffe on Soar, West Burton A and Cottom in Nottinghamshire; Fiddlers Ferry in Cheshire, Aberthaw B in the Vale of Glamorgan; and Kilroot in County Antrim.
National Grid director of UK system operations Fintan Slye said: ‘We have set a new record by operating the electricity system without coal for just under 55 hours.
‘The UK benefits from highly diverse and flexible sources of electricity and our energy mix continues to change. National Grid adapts the system operation to embrace these changes.
‘However, it’s important to remember coal is still an important source of energy as we transition to a low carbon system.”
Environmental legal charity ClientEarth’s chief executive, James Thornton, said: ‘As if we needed any more proof, the UK has moved beyond coal.
‘We now need the grid to be ready to bring renewables online – that means smart tech to manage consumer demand, advancements in battery storage, and integrating electric vehicles into the equation. The more coal-free days we see, the better it is for people’s health and for the climate.’
‘The UK has promised to be a world-leading example – it needs to continue powering past coal, investing in the right strategies and technologies to make the transition as easy as it can be,’ he added.
The government’s plan to close the remaining coal power stations revealed that the coal sector will continue to be supported by hundreds of millions of pounds in backup power subsidies for several years, which will be paid through consumer energy bills.