For the first time since 1822, Britain went coal-free, generating electricity for a week. It’s a massive leap towards the government’s pledge to completely eradicate the use of coal as an energy source by 2025.
Based on the National Grid Electricity System Operator, the coal generator stopped running since May 1, 1:24 pm and it was off the system for about week or so. National Grid Electricity System Operator handles the electricity network across England, Scotland, and Wales.
Coal-powered stations still play a significant role in the energy source of the UK, as it stands as a back-up when the power demand is high. However, due to the increase of renewable energy sources like wind power, the need for coal has become less required. The surging cost for fuel also makes it a less attractive option for energy.
This milestone of being coal-free for a week since 1822, took place only two years from the Industrial Revolution where Britain has gone a day without using coal for energy.
With today’s pressing issues about climate change and heavy pollution, the Britain government pledged to phase out the use of coal for energy by 2025.
According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), decreasing the coal use since 2013 reduced the emissions from electricity generation to half. This report from CCC resulted in the UK’s objective to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Director of National Grid ESO, Fintan Slye believes that Britain can achieve a zero-emission electricity system by 2025.
“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,” Slye said in an interview with The Guardian.
Business secretary, Greg Clark, commended Britain’s milestone, saying that the UK is “on a path to become the first major economy to legislate for net-zero emissions.”
In the government’s world-changing challenge to be emissions-free, some of its policies still face criticisms. According to Chris Stark, CCC’s chief executive, proposals for VAT increase on solar panels and the government’s failure to adequately support onshore wind power generation makes the goal more difficult towards a carbon-free electricity system.
On the business committee, Stark said, “we will need to throw everything at this challenge, including onshore wind and solar.”
“Anything that makes it harder is really not in line with the net-zero challenge overall,” he added.
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