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UK goes coal-free for record-breaking 90 hours during hot Easter weekend weather | Construction Buzz #214

25 Apr 2019

It's the longest period of time the country has gone without using coal since before the industrial revolution.

Britain has broken its record for using energy generated from sources other than coal during the hot Easter weekend.

National Grid said the UK recorded its longest ever continuous coal-free period over the bank holiday weekend, lasting more than 90 hours.

It marks the longest stretch of time in which the UK’s electricity has been produced by other means since before the industrial revolution, which began in the 1700s.

The 90-hour mark, which ran up to Monday afternoon, well outpaced the previous record of 76 hours set in April 2018.


No coal for 90 hours

Duncan Burt, director of operations at National Grid, said the long weekend marked “another significant step towards a zero-carbon power grid” in the UK.

“We’ve run on coal since the industrial revolution, but that is now changing,” Mr Burt told i.

“There’s been a steady decline in coal usage since 2010 and we expect to see it gone completely by 2025.

“This weekend saw a big input from solar energy – it topped out just above 25 per cent.”

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each enjoyed their warmest Easter Sunday on record, according to the Met Office said.

Mr Burt said the previous record was broken thanks to a “sweet spot” in conditions, where the warm weather stopped people from using their central heating, overall energy usage went down due to more people being outside, but temperatures were not so warm that people needed to stay indoors and use air conditioning.

End to coal use

He said ideal conditions for the National Grid see warm sunshine in the south and wind in the North and in Scotland, creating conditions that mean a high production of both solar and wind power.

Over the bank holiday, gas still made up a sizeable chunk of electricity usage, and Britain was still required to import power from Europe. Nuclear energy made up about 25 per cent.


The British government is working to see the end of the use of coal by 2025.

A report published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) earlier this year showed the UK used more coal-free power in the first three months of 2019 than in the entirety of 2017.

Energy and Clean Growth minister Claire Perry said: “Coal is the most polluting fossil fuel, which is why we’ve committed to phasing it out entirely from our energy mix by 2025 as we help lead the world in the transition to cleaner technologies.”

But environmental campaigners have warned that while an increase in renewable energy is positive, gas and other fossil fuels are also replacing coal.


‘Let’s make this every day’

Muna Suleiman, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, told the BBC: “89 hours of coal-free electricity is great, but let’s make this all day every day.

“Electricity generated by renewable sources is a key part of the fight against climate chaos, so it’s time to remove all the blockers to renewable energy.

“The Government must prioritise the development of sources such as solar and onshore wind.”

The Labour Party has also questioned Government policy, and said its fracking plans will release the same amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as creating 300 million brand news cars.

A reliance on gas also makes the UK vulnerable to international markets, according to Friends of the Earth, which said the energy source isn’t clean enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions in line with the country’s legal targets.

The 2008 Climate Change Act requires greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced by 80 per cent – when compared to 1990 levels – by 2050.

Source: inews

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