The UK’s dwindling interest in coal-fired power has long been known, but it looks like the effects of the country’s coal phase-out are going to hit a monumental peak in 2018 as the country has surpassed 1,000 hours without using coal already in 2018.
Figures compiled by MyGridGB — a non-affiliated website tracking the British Electricity Transition — show that the UK has already gone 1,048 cumulative hours without coal in 2018, smashing previous years’ records. Specifically, 2016 only saw a total of 210 hours without coal and 2017 saw 624 hours without coal — that’s a 400% and 67% increase, respectively, and we’re only halfway through the year.
Some coal industry proponents had earlier this year hoped that the arrival of the “beast from the east” would prove the need for coal power — as it caused temperatures to plummet at the same time as gas supply problems threatened energy security — but as can be seen below, this was only a brief abnormality before things returned to the new status quo.
This year was already filled with records that proved the demise of coal, when across the last half of April the country’s electricity grid went a record 55 consecutive hours without using coal, immediately followed by a new record of 76 consecutive hours.
Earlier that same month, provisional statistics from the Government confirmed that wind and solar combined to become the country’s second-largest source of electricity after natural gas. This was backed up only a couple of weeks ago when the UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy published figures that showed renewable energy accounted for 30% of the country’s total electricity generation in the first quarter of 2018, outpacing nuclear. The last seven days, according to MyGridGB, shows that nuclear is actually outpacing renewables at the moment, but only by a few percentage points.