Power stations in the UK have generated a record 650 hours of energy without burning coal in the first three months of 2019.
The result, which shows UK coal-free power reached higher numbers between January and March 2019 than in the entirety of 2017, was published last week in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) report into energy generation trends. While the UK achieved its first full 24 hours without coal power since the Industrial Revolution in April 2017, followed by 55 hours in April 2018, this year’s record is particularly notable for having taken place primarily during winter, when demand for power is higher.
The report further notes that the UK is set to break more of its own coal reduction records in 2019, with early figures suggesting coal burning in electricity generation has dropped by two thirds since the same period in 2018. Representatives for the National Grid have claimed the UK could be on track to operate a zero carbon energy grid by 2025 if progress continues in the development of UK coal-free power solutions and associated smart technologies.
Energy and Clean Growth minister Claire Perry said: “Coal is the most polluting fossil fuel, which is why we’ve committed to phasing it out entirely from our energy mix by 2025 as we help lead the world in the transition to cleaner technologies. This year we’ve already gone almost one month without coal to meet Britain’s electricity needs – more than the whole of 2017 – as we continue to seize the economic opportunities of moving to a greener, cleaner economy.”
While UK coal-free power has progressed substantially, the country remains likely to miss its next two carbon reduction targets, set in line with the Paris Agreement. The Conservative government has fallen under criticism for its renewable energy policies, perceived by many to be insufficient; and for its approval of plans to build a new coal mine in Cumbria.