The National Grid has announced that Britain has had its first working day since the industrial revolution without coal-powered generation.
From 11pm on Thursday 20th April to 11pm on Friday 21st April the nation’s electricity needs were met by natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, biomass and imported power from France. There was one morning in May 2016 when it had happened before, but this was the first time it passed the symbolic milestone of a full working day.
National Grid’s Director of System Operator Cordi O’Hara described it as a “watershed moment in how our energy system is changing.”
“The UK benefits from highly diverse and flexible sources of electricity. Our energy mix continues to change and National Grid adapts 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.”
Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, said: “The first day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution marks a watershed in the energy transition. A decade ago, a day without coal would have been unimaginable, and in 10 years’ time our energy system will have radically transformed again. The direction of travel is that both in the UK and globally we are already moving towards a low carbon economy. It is a clear message to any new government that they should prioritise making the UK a world leader in clean, green, technology.”
Just under half the electricity generated today comes from gas generators, 20% from nuclear, and the rest from solar, wind and energy brought in from Europe. It is part of the industry’s wider move away from coal by 2025 – but it doesn’t mean the UK’s remaining coal plants will remain idle from now on.