In May 2019, Britain went for an entire fortnight without using electricity from burning coal. This is the longest coal-free period since the 1880’s.
However, this should not come as a surprise. The first 24-hour coal-free run in over 100 years was recorded in April 2017. This was the first of many coal-free days and since the coal-free fortnight in May, the use of coal-powered energy has remained below 0.49%. Instead of burning coal, Britain has made the switch to natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy sources such as wind power and biomass.
Although a significant share of coal-powered energy has been replaced by renewable sources, 48% of the UK’s energy mix is still sourced from natural gas, a carbon-emitting fossil fuel. However, while carbon dioxide is produced when natural gas and biomass are burnt, coal plants emit almost twice as much carbon dioxide as gas-fired power plants.
Significant progress has been made since 2012 when coal accounted for up to 50% of the UK’s energy mix. By phasing out coal, the UK government has strengthened its commitment to tackling climate change. As part of efforts to meet its climate target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared with 1990 levels in the next three decades, the UK plans to phase out the UK’s last coal-fired generators by 2025, a move that was welcomed by environmental campaigners. By: Sarah Bartlett Data from: Gridwatch Interactive Dataviz: Link