World

UK Has First Coal-Free Day Since Industrial Revolution

| by Ray Brown
A coal plant in MinnesotaA coal plant in Minnesota

Great Britain is expected to have its first day completely free of coal since the days of the Industrial Revolution.

The U.K.'s National Grid Control Room made the announcement via Twitter on April 21.

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"Great Britain has never had a continuous 24 hour period without #coal," the National Grid tweeted. "Today is looking like it could be the first."

A National Grid spokesman said coal-free days will become more common as the government phases out its use, according to The Guardian.

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Duncan Burt, head of operate the system at National Grid, said "it's really down to the growing levels of renewables.″

"We have solar and wind displacing traditional fossil fuels,″ Burt told Bloomberg. "We’ll start seeing these days more regularly, especially in June and July when it’s sunny.″

Coal has seen a significant decline in recent years. In 2016, it represented just 9 percent of electricity generation in the U.K.

"The first day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution marks a watershed in the energy transition," said Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace U.K., according to The Guardian "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," Martin added. "It is a clear message to any new government that they should prioritise making the UK a world leader in clean, green, technology."

"The first country to use coal for electricity is now on the cusp of being the first major economy completely phase it out,″ said Ben Caldecott, director of the sustainable finance program at the University of Oxford. "Doing so will improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions, and help attract investment into more reliable and secure alternatives."

Emma Pinchbeck, the executive director of RenewableUK, praised the progress made in energy production throughout the U.K.

"The change in how we produce energy is the industrial revolution of this generation: as the age of coal passes, the renewables boom is well under way,″ she said, according to SkyNews. "Coal has been part of the UK's past, but we should celebrate the move away from dirty and old fashioned technology to a modern, clean energy future."

The National Grid previously recorded a 19-hour stretch of avoiding coal use in May 2016.

The British government has said it plans to completely phase out coal use by the year 2025.

Sources: The Guardian, Bloomberg, Sky News, NG Control Room/Twitter / Photo Credit: Tony Webster/Flickr

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