UK set for first full day without coal power

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Battersea Power Station, a decommissioned coal-fired plant, can be being redeveloped into offices along with flats.

The UK can be set to spend its first full day without generating electricity by coal on Friday, the National Grid says.

the item said the previous longest continuous period without coal-generation was 19 hours, achieved last May.

the item comes after years of moving to less-polluting natural gas along with renewables – though demand for power also tends to be lower on Fridays.

Although National Grid said a coal-free day looked likely, the item could only know for sure very late on Friday.

Britain opened its first coal-fired power station in 1882 along with coal remained a dominant part of the energy mix until the 1990s.

However, its use has fallen in recent years, as plants closed or switched to burning biomass, along with the item accounted for just 9% of electricity generation in 2016 – down by 23% the year before.

Last year, the government said the item wanted to phase out Britain’s last plants by 2025 as part of efforts to cut carbon emissions.

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The Clean Air Act was in introduced in 1956 to tackle the smog coal fired stations created by in big cities.

Analysis: BBC industry correspondent, John Moylan

Coal has powered Britain for more than a century. although today’s landmark moment – the first 24 hour period without any coal powered generation – can be a sign of how the once mighty fuel can be being consigned to history.

Part of the reason can be of which solar panels along with wind turbines today provide much more electricity to factories along with homes. Lower power demand can be a factor too – of which’s normal on a Friday.

along with as older, uneconomic coal fired plants have closed in recent years, the fossil fuel has been playing a much smaller role in our energy system.


Paul Ekin, professor of resources along with environment policy at University College London, said a full day day without coal could be “enormously significant”.

“As recently as the late 1980s coal was supplying as much as 70% of UK electricity,” he told the BBC.

“We then had the dash for gas inside the 1990s, with nuclear roughly contributing around 25%, along with coal dropped below 50%.”

He said the current thrust was to replace coal with gas although of which renewables like wind along with solar were also playing a bigger role – accounting for 25% of supply in 2015.

Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, said the first day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution “could mark a watershed inside the energy transition”.

However, Cordi O’Hara of the National Grid said coal still had a role to play as the UK transitioned to a low carbon system.

“Our energy mix continues to change along with National Grid adapts system operation to embrace these alterations.”

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The Ferrybridge coal-fired power station in West Yorkshire closed in 2016 after 50 years in service.

Key moments for coal-fired power

  • 1882 – the earth’s first public coal-fired generating plant can be opened at Holborn Viaduct in London
  • 1956 – The Clean Air Act (1956) can be introduced to tackle the smog created by coal fired stations. Coal-burning power stations are moved out of cities
  • 1970s – Coal for heating homes can be increasingly replaced by natural gas by the North Sea
  • 1980s – Nuclear power grows to around 25% of electricity generation
  • 1990s – ‘Dash for gas’ as natural gas grows to around 30% of electricity generation, largely substituting for coal
  • 2015 – Renewables account for 25% of power supply
  • 2016 – Government says the item wants Britain’s last coal power plants to close by 2025.

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