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Britain reaches an important milestone — Two months coal-free

Just a decade ago, 40 percent of the country’s electrical power was generated by coal, and going two full months without using coal is an amazing feat. However, the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdown did play a part in this environmental accomplishment.

We can also add that the month of May helped too. May turned out to be the sunniest month on record, so all in all, the country was able to increase its reliance on solar power and other renewable energy sources such as wind, reports The Guardian.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the country into lockdown, electricity demand plummeted and the National Grid responded by taking power plants off the network. Britain’s four remaining coal-fired power plants were the first to be taken off the grid.

The last coal generator was taken off the grid at midnight on 9 April, and coal has not been burnt for electricity since. The figures apply to England, Scotland, and Wales only, as Northern Ireland is not on the National Grid.

“The exact two-month mark is midnight tonight (00:00 on Wednesday 10 June), which will mark 61 days (or 1,464 hours) since the last coal generator came off the system,” a spokesman for National Grid’s Electricity System Operator said.

Drax power station is a large biomass and coal-fired power station in North Yorkshire  England.

Drax power station is a large biomass and coal-fired power station in North Yorkshire, England.
Paul Glazzard / Northeast of Drax / (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A dramatic transformation
Think about the big picture for a moment – Great Britain introduced coal-powered electricity to the world in the 1880s. And due to a massive investment in renewable energy over the last ten years, Britain has again shown it is a leader by introducing the world to the transformable power of clean energy.

Great Britain has set a goal of closing all its coal-fired power plants by 2024 as part of efforts to reach the government’s net-zero emissions goal by 2050. It has been shown that coal-fired plants release double the amount of carbon dioxide – a key greenhouse gas – as natural gas-fired power plants.

Renewable energy use has also overtaken coal in the US for the first time in more than 130 years. Data from the US Energy Information Administration show that renewables, including hydropower, wind, and solar, generated more electricity than coal every day during April 2020.

“IEEFA had forecasted that power generation from renewables would likely surpass coal-fired generation in 2021, an important milestone in the energy transition that is well underway,” the group wrote. “But in the first quarter of 2020, renewable generation unexpectedly exceeded coal, and with this strong performance continuing in the second quarter, there is an increasing chance that the milestone could occur this year.”

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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