The UK Just Went 55 Hours Without Using Coal For Power

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Nov. 19 2020, Updated 9:38 p.m. ET

The United Kingdom has set a new record for electricity generation without coal. Bloomberg confirms through power grid data that the fossil fuel wasn’t used for a span of 55 hours this week. Much of the power generated came from wind turbines, and this breaks a previous record of 40 hours set in October.

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London’s power stations recorded no coal being used between 10:25 PM on Monday night through 5:10 AM early Thursday morning. According to the graph, coal has been rarely tapped into from late Saturday onward. In the weekend before, coal was marginally between April 6th through the 8th.

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National Grid UK reported that natural gas usually led in power generation. However, when combining all production throughout Tuesday, wind power had the most at 33.7 percent. Gas came in right behind at 28.7 percent. Low-carbon sources, which include nuclear and hydropower with renewables, at times generated 60 percent of UK’s power.

Director of National Grid UK, Fintan Slye, told Energy Voice that coal is still important as they transition to renewables and other low-carbon sources, but they are ready for the switch: “The UK benefits from highly diverse and flexible sources of electricity and our energy mix continues to change. National Grid adapts the system operation to embrace these changes.

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With the UK pursuing renewables early, such as leading the world in offshore wind turbines, it can steadily phase out the fossil fuel. There are current goals of ending all coal-fired power plants by 2025.

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The United Kingdom broke 13 renewable energy records last year. They had a 24-hour day without any coal generation roughly a year ago, and that was thwarted by a stretch near Halloween with 40 hours and 35 minutes. Renewable sources alone generated 20 gigawatts of power last June, which was more than coal and gas combined.

“As if we needed any more proof, the UK has moved beyond coal,” James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth, told Energy Voice. “We now need the grid to be ready to bring renewables online – that means smart tech to manage consumer demand, advancements in battery storage, and integrating electric vehicles into the equation.”

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