UK’s longest ever coal-free run comes to an end

Great Britain’s electricity network’s longest ever coal-free run finally came to an end last night, almost three weeks after it began.

The UK’s record-breaking run without coal-fired power ended yesterday evening at 9.20pm after lasting 18 days and 6 hours, the National Grid ESO announced.

The run is nonetheless an achievement as the UK moves away from burning fossil fuels to generate its electricity, with similarly long coal-free runs predicted in future.

The National Grid ESO, which operates the UK’s electricity system, tweeted yesterday evening: ‘Due to plant availability and system requirements, our current coal run has come to an end at 9.20pm this evening.’

Although the UK’s coal power was forced to come back online last night, it still provided just a small percentage of the UK’s power mix overnight.

The Twitter account UK Coal, which produces hourly updates on the National Grid’s coal generation, confirmed that coal generation peaked at 1.06% overnight before dropping back down to zero.

It is anticipated that coal-free runs will become the new norm over the summer as the UK continues to generate its electricity via renewable sources.

During this most recent run, 40% of generation for the grid was met by gas, 20% by nuclear, 13% by wind, 11% by imports, 8% by biomass and 7% by solar, while large hydro and storage projects provided less than 1% each, UK Coal confirmed.

The UK government currently plans to close all the UK’s remaining coal-fired power stations by 2025, while the National Grid aims to operate a zero-carbon power system by the same date.

There are currently seven coal-fired power stations still active in the UK, although one of these – Cottam in Nottinghamshire – is confirmed to close in September 2019.

While environmental campaigners have praised the progress the UK has made in decarbonising its energy supply and power sectors, frustration remains that progress is still sluggish in other sectors.

BEIS figures released back in March found that while the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 3% in 2018 from 2017, the transport and business sectors are lagging behind with the latter reporting a 0% year-on-year reduction.


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