The UK has gone a record-breaking four days without using coal-fired power to generate its electricity.
Earlier this morning (May 6), the National Grid confirmed Britain had gone 117 hours without using the fossil fuel, a number which is still rising.
This blows the country’s previous record of approximately 90 hours without coal power out of the water, a feat which happened Easter weekend, 2019.
As reported by the Independent, this is the first time the UK has been powered for so long without coal since the world’s first coal-fired power station for public use was opened in London in 1882.
The previous record was more than 90 hours, set only a couple of weeks ago in April, and was referred to as a’really big deal’ by the chief of operations at National Grid, Duncan Burt.
The burning of coal is one of the world’s largest contributors to climate change, with the Government planning to phase out the last of Britain’s coal power plants by 2025 in an attempt to cut greenhouse gases.
As reported by the BBC, the record set prior to this year was April 2018 when Britain went 76 hours and 10 minutes without coal power.
Before that, in April 2017, the UK went its first full day without coal energy since the 19th century. To make such huge leaps in the space of just a couple of years shows that positive change is not only possible, it’s happening.
Last year, coal made up less than 10 per cent of the country’s energy mix and will be less than that again in 2019, the National Grid have said. However, experts have warned that power generated by coal has largely been replaced by gas – another fossil fuel – rather than renewable sources.
Experts have also said a reliance on gas is not clean enough to meet the UK’s legal targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions; the 2008 Climate Change Act requires greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced by 80 per cent by 2050 – compared to 1990 levels.
As per the BBC, Muna Suleiman, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:
89 hours of coal-free electricity is great but let’s make this all day every day. Electricity generated by renewable sources is a key part of the fight against climate chaos so it’s time to remove all the blockers to renewable energy.
The government must prioritise the development of sources such as solar and onshore wind.
Britain has already gone more than 1,000 hours without needing coal in 2019, and this year looks set to break all previous records.
A definite step in the right direction, let’s hope we continue to do everything in our power to help protect the environment.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).