UK goes record two weeks without using coal for energy generation

The United Kingdom has gone for a record length of time gone without using coal as part of its energy grid.
Published: Tue 09 Jul 2019
A blog entry by Morgan Franklin

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Morgan Franklin
Freelance writer

Morgan Franklin's Blog

The United Kingdom has gone for a record length of time gone without using coal as part of its energy grid. The country went two weeks without coal power, the longest period since the 1880s, over 130 years ago. According to the organisation which manages the methods by which British energy is generated, National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), has said that the last time that coal was used in Britain was the 17th of May, with its removal from the grid taking place at 15.12 that afternoon. Earlier in the month, the British grid set records and attracted much attention when it went a week without coal for the first since 1882. The experiments by the grid’s management are part of Government efforts to phase out coal entirely by 2025 and demonstrate that it is now viable for the British energy network to function without the use of coal energy. Coal’s importance in the country has been declining as a result of this target, accounting for just 5% of all energy production in 2018, down from 40% in 2012. Plans to dramatically curb the use of coal power have come about as a result of increasing awareness of the issue of climate change and the threat posed to the planet by the so-called greenhouse effect - whereby greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide intensify the sun’s heat and warm the planet. Tackling coal is a major part of limiting the impact of climate change with coal contributing 46% of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions and accounting for 72% of total greenhouse gas emissions generated by energy production. Flinton Slye, the director of ESO, reportedly said of the development “As more and more renewables come on to the system, we're seeing things progress at an astonishing rate. 2018 was our greenest year to date, and so far, 2019 looks like it has the potential to beat it.” The ESO is also reporting records for the use of renewables, with 25% of the UK’s power needs on the 14th of May being served by solar power - the highest level ever generated by the sun. The UK energy industry has faced a number of challenges in recent years, including the need to meet ambitious targets for the adoption of new sources of energy, and a big gender gap - with a 79% male workforce. This news is a heartening sign that the industry is successfully adapting to these challenges and pull its weight in the transition to a greener society and cleaner economy. 2019 has seen the issue of climate change brought to the forefront of public attention, with worldwide protests and strikes by school children who have been skipping school each Friday to demand action to save their future from the catastrophic impact of climate change. This will include droughts and famines, rising sea levels, and mass migration as huge parts of the world become either too hot or too flooded to live in.