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Britain's coal-free week the first since 1882

Date: 13-May-19
Author: Liam Taylor

The last time Britain went an entire week without coal-fired power took place while Queen Victoria was still on the throne. Image: Pexels © Pexels

The last time Britain went an entire week without coal-fired power took place while Queen Victoria was still on the throne. Image: Pexels

It’s been over 130 years since the last time Britain went without coal-fired electricity for seven consecutive days, but that is what took place last week in the heartland of the industrial revolution.

According to the National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO), the last coal generator came off the system just before 1.30pm on May 1st and no coal-fired electricity entered the network between then and Wednesday last week, marking the first coal-less week in Britain since the reign of Queen Victoria.

Since 2013, reductions in coal use across the United Kingdom have slashed electricity generation emissions in half, with numerous power plants permanently shutting down in recent years. This reflects a government commitment to completely phasing out coal-fired power by 2025 in an effort to address climate change.

Fintan Slye, director of NGESO, said he believed by 2025 the country could be run not only coal-free, but entirely carbon-free, with the right policies and infrastructure investment.

“Zero-carbon operation of the electricity system by 2025 means a fundamental change to how our system was designed to operate – integrating newer technologies right across the system – from large-scale offshore wind to domestic-scale solar panels to increased demand-side participation, using new smart digital systems to manage and control the system in real-time,” Slye told The Guardian.

Burning coal to generate electricity produces huge amounts of greenhouse gases, which are the primary cause of human-induced climate change. To limit global warming to 1.5°C and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the UN has recommended a complete phase-out of coal by 2050.


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia. Joining the communications team at Planet Ark, he hopes to inspire positive environmental behaviour through effective and positive messaging.

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