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Climate Change

Scotland Ends Coal Power With A Bang

Scotland recently demolished its last coal-fired power station, ending coal’s reign in the country with a literal bang – ending decades of reliance on the emissions-heavy fossil fuel.

“Today’s event is a symbolic reminder that we have ended coal-fired power generation in Scotland, as we work in a fair and just way towards becoming a Net Zero nation by 2045.” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, right after pushing the button that set off the explosives. “Our goal is to generate 50% of overall energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030, and Scotland’s energy sector is well placed to deliver on the key investments in renewables, hydrogen and energy storage required to achieve this.”

The tallest part of the power plant, called Longannet Chimney, stood over 600 feet tall, and was the largest free-standing structure in Scotland. At one point, it was also the largest power generating station in all of Europe. While other stations have since outclassed it, it remained the largest coal-fired station in Scotland all the way until 2016, when it closed down. For the next 5 years, it stood like a ghost of coal power over the country until ScottishPower rigged it with explosives for a controlled demolition.

On December 9th, 700 kilograms (1500 lb) of explosives brought the tower down, officially making coal history in Scotland. Since 2016, ScottishPower has been making only renewable energy from wind and solar farms in the country.

“At COP26 in Glasgow, we were proud to show the world that Scotland has already made coal history. As a 100% energy company, we are committed to helping the UK end its reliance on fossil fuels.” said Keith Anderson, Chief Executive, ScottishPower. “For half a century, Longannet’s chimney has dominated the Firth of Forth skyline. We bade farewell to that landmark today – however this is a landmark day for Scotland too. Watching the chimney of Scotland’s last coal-fired station fall today represents a real milestone, as the UK moves away from the large polluting power stations of the past and accelerates down the road to net zero emissions. We already know the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is essential to minimise the worst impacts of global warming and address the climate emergency.”

The Longannet plant ran for over 47 years, burning coal from around the world. Typically, it consumed 4 million tonnes of coal per year and at full production could produce enough electricity to power two million homes. Coal came from Scotland, but also came from as far away as Russia to feed the plant’s needs.

Prior to the demolition, the company projected the Global Warming Stripes onto the chimney, and also projected “Make Coal History” on to the smokestack to make it clear to the public that they weren’t just demolishing an old power station, but did so as part of a larger effort to clean up the country’s act in the face of an existential threat.

In other words, it marks something a whole lot more important than just one smokestack or one power station. Scotland is committed to clean, renewable energy and isn’t about to turn back now.

Featured image by ScottishPower.

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Written By

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.


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