Britain has gone a week without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since Queen Victoria was on the throne, in a landmark moment in the transition away from the heavily polluting fuel.
The last coal generator came off the system at 1.24pm on 1 May, meaning the UK reached a week without coal at 1.24pm on Wednesday, according to the National Grid Electricity System Operator, which runs the network in England, Scotland and Wales.
The latest achievement – the first coal-free week since 1882, when a plant opened at Holborn in London – comes only two years after Britain’s first coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution. Now the country has increased its record – 1 week 1 day 1 hour and 25 minutes. On May 9, after 193 hours, the coal blocks were connected from the network.
These days, on average, the country's energy balance was as follows: gas generation 23%, nuclear – 21%, wind – 12%, electricity imports – 10%, biomass – 6%, solar generation – 5%, hydroelectric power plants – 1%, energy storage systems – less than 1%.
A new countdown of the “carbonless” period began on May 10th. As of 5:00 pm, the UK's power system works without coal for 17 hours.
Coal-fired power stations still play a major part in the UK’s energy system as a backup during high demand but the increasing use of renewable energy sources such as wind power means it is required less. High international coal prices have also made the fuel a less attractive source of energy.
UK government has committed to phasing out coal-fired power by 2025. And to turn into a fully carbon-neutral country by 2050.
Britain’s electricity system could be run with zero carbon as soon as 2025, according to National Grid, primarily due to offshore wind turbines.
It was reported earlier that Britain is going to increase the VAT by 15% (up to 20%) on components for home solar power plants, and for storage systems as well. This decision against the news of the first carbonless week from the end of the 19th century is condemned by many “green” experts.
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