Britain powers on without coal for a fortnight

As coal plants take up to six hours to warm up and become available on the system, the new record will be set at 3.12pm today

The Big Zero report

Britain has set another new record by powering on without the use of coal for a fortnight.

National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) confirmed the coal-free operation of the UK’s electricity system, after surpassing the previous record of 193 hours and 25 minutes – or eight days, one hour and 25 minutes which was set on 9th May 2019.

The last coal generator came off the system at 3.12pm on 17th May 2019 and with coal plants taking up to six hours to warm up and become available, it means Britain will reach a fortnight without coal at 3.12pm today.

The news comes as National Grid ESO aims to operate a zero carbon electricity system by 2025.

Fintan Slye, ESO Director said: “As more and more renewables come onto the system, we’re seeing things progress at an astonishing rate. We also broke our solar record for GB this month – with one day seeing over a quarter of the country powered by the sun. Our stats also tell us that decarbonisation levels have decreased by over 50% between 2013-2018; 2018 was our greenest year to date and so far, 2019 looks like it has the potential to beat it.

“We’ve been planning for reduced running of coal plant for many years, as well as managing increasing levels of renewables. This means that network investments have been made and grid operator services have been procured such that we can operate a network with no coal plant.

“As we predicted when we first broke the record for a week of no coal generation at the start of the month, events such as today’s will become the ‘new normal’. As we move towards 2025, we believe that we will be able to operate Great Britain’s electricity system with zero carbon generation.”

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Chris Skidmore welcomed the news.

He said: “We are continuing to reap the rewards of investing in our thriving renewables sector.  The UK has the largest offshore wind capacity on the planet, can generate more than a quarter of our electricity needs from the sun and last year more than half of our electricity came from low carbon sources.

“Through our modern Industrial Strategy we’ll continue to seize the opportunities of moving to a greener, cleaner energy system as we aim to become the first major economy to legislate for a net zero emissions economy and bid to host pivotal climate talks in 2020.”

Technologies for energy users that can help them reduce emissions and costs will be among those on display at The Energy Solutions Show (TESS)  on June 5th at Millennium Point, Birmingham.

If you wish to register as a delegate for free, you can send an e-mail here.

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