The UK has just gone for a record-breaking 3 days without using any electricity from burning coal. The last time that happened was in the 19th century!
The country was runnng on nuclear, gas and renewables for a total of 76 hours, smashing the previous record of 55 hours set just last week, and far exceeding the 24-hour coal-free period from last April.
Demand for energy dropped during the recent period of warm weather, allowing other sources to cover the country’s needs without having to rely on ‘dirty’ power from coal.
According to the National Grid, gas power did most of the heavy lifting during the 3 day period, providing just over 30% of the total power used. Wind power came in second place with 25%, followed by nuclear at 23%. Other sources (including imported energy from Europe and biomass generation) accounted for around 15%. Solar power came in last with 6%.
Drop in demand
Coal power did experience a temporary spike in demand during the recent cold snap caused by the ‘beast from the east’. An increase in gas being used for heating reduced the amount available for power generation, causing coal power plants to come online.
Despite this, experts are expecting an overall drop in demand for coal, with the National Grid forecasting lower demand this summer compared to 2017, and two coal plants expected to close later this year.
Industry experts are optimistic that we will hit more renewable energy milestones in the coming year. “Ever rising renewable capacity in the UK will see these records fall more and more frequently, clearly showing progress made over the past decade or two,” said Jonathan Marshall, an analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.