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Britain Nears 12 Days Without Coal

Great Britain is on its way to going 12 days without coal generating any electricity, smashing the previous record set only a few weeks ago and solidifying coal’s increasing irrelevance in the British energy mix. 

Great Britain is on its way to going 12 days without coal generating any electricity, smashing the previous record set only a few weeks ago and solidifying coal’s increasing irrelevance in the British energy mix.

Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station, England
Image Credit: Alan Murray-Rust

Great Britain has set a target of eliminating coal from its energy mix entirely by 2025. It is one of the world’s most ambitious coal elimination targets — though, to be fair, that isn’t saying much at this stage. At this stage, however, one wonders if Britain hasn’t set itself something of an easy goal.

Over the past year, Great Britain — as distinct from the United Kingdom, given that the British energy grid does not extend to Northern Ireland — has regularly reported record-breaking stretches of time where there has been no coal generation whatsoever. In April of 2018, Britain first went 55 hours without coal, and then only days later broke the record with 76 hours without coal.

By July of 2018, Britain had already surpassed 1,000 hours without any coal generation.

Fast-forward to April 2019, and Britain broke its record hours without coal again, going 91 hours without coal over the Easter weekend.

A fortnight later, Britain took the record hours without coal and smashed it to pieces, going 193 hours and 26 minutes without coal generation — that’s over 8 days.

Going a week without coal for the first time since the Industrial Revolution is a huge leap forward in our world-leading efforts to reduce emissions, but we’re not stopping there,” said UK Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark, speaking to RenewEconomy in early May.

Fintan Slye, head of Britain’s National Grid, which runs the grid, told media in the UK: “I predict it will become the ‘new normal’.”

May isn’t even over, however, and as of writing, Britain has again smashed the record number of hours without coal, and it currently sits at 281 hours — 11 days and 17 hours.

According to the National Grid, already in May there have been over 600 hours, 25 days, without coal.

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