A new record is to be set in Britain with the first ever week of coal-free operation of the electricity system.
National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) confirmed the last coal generator came off the system at 1:24pm on 1st May, which means the UK reaches 168 hours without coal at 1.24pm today.
The ESO, which is aiming for a zero carbon power grid by 2025, relies on a “mix of generation” to balance the system.
Fintan Slye, Director of ESO said coal-free runs are going to be a “regular occurrence” as more renewables come onto the electricity grid.
He added: “At 1.24pm today, we will reach over a week of no coal being used to operate the electricity system. While this is the first time this has happened, I predict it will become the ‘new normal’.
“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.
“To help us reach today’s significant milestone, we have been working with industry over the last few years to ensure the services we require to operate the network are not dependent on coal. We have been forecasting the closure of coal plant and reduced running for some time – due to us having to manage more renewables on the system. Transmission owners have invested in their networks accordingly and we have refined our operational strategies and real time operation of the network to ensure continued secure and economic operation.”
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark welcomed the news, adding: “Going a week without coal for the first time since the Industrial Revolution is a huge leap forward in our world-leading efforts to reduce emissions but we’re not stopping there. To combat climate change and seize on the opportunities of clean growth, we’re phasing out coal entirely by 2025 and building a cleaner, greener energy system.
“We lead the world when it comes to tackling climate change and we want to carry on breaking records, which is why we’ve put foundations in place to allow our renewables sector to thrive. We’re now on a path to become the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions.”