Britain extends run of coal-free electricity to more than six days

FF4HF2 Black Law Wind Farm, near Forth, Lanarkshire, Scotland UK.

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    Britain continues to undermine the conventional wisdom that coal-generated electricity is vital for modern economies to function. A fortnight after Great Britain went over 90 hours without generating electricity from coal-fired power stations over Easter, the country went and did it again.

    As of initial publication of this story, the UK Coal Twitter account reports “continuous hours without coal” at 155 hours – smashing the previous record set over the Easter weekend just past .

    A spokesperson for National Grid, the country’s grid operator, confirmed to various British news agencies on Monday and Tuesday that coal-fired electricity generation had been absent from the British electrical grid for over 100 hours.

    “We broke the record this weekend for the longest period of time without coal,” said Sean Kemp, spokesman for National Grid. “The continuous period of time without any coal generation on the system was just over 100 hours.

    “It’s becoming a more regular occurrence now.

    “More people have installed solar, more coal is coming off and there’s more wind in the system.”

    It is well known that coal is becoming less and less important in Great Britain’s electricity mix, now accounting for under 10% of the country’s power output, and on track for the Government’s planned phase-out by 2025.

    Some people believe that by the year 2050, we will have enough renewable energy to meet 95% of our energy needs.

    Further, we regularly find ourselves reporting on this record-breaking “hours without coal” stories – as happened after Easter weekend a fortnight ago. By the end of that record-breaking period, the British electricity market had gone nearly 91 hours without coal. Duncan Burt, director of operations at National Grid, told BBC Radio 5 Live then that it was “a really big deal”.

    “It’s all about the sunny weather we’ve been seeing, so energy demand is low. There has been lots of lovely solar power off the panels too.”

    This is on the heels of records set a year ago in April 2018, when Great Britain increased its record period without coal-generated electricity, first with a 55-hour coal-free periodfollowed up a week later with a 76-hour coal-free period. By the end of 2018, Britain went over 1,000 cumulative hours without coal-fired electricity generation.

    According to the UK National Grid “UK Coal” Twitter account – which provides regular hourly updates of coal’s contribution to the Great British National Grid – of the 36.75 GW currently being generated by the country’s energy mix, coal has remained absent for 146 continuous hours, and counting.

    This is backed up by Drax Electric Insights’ tracking – providing data courtesy of Elexon, National Grid, and Sheffield Solar – which similarly shows that coal has been absent from Great Britain’s energy mix since May 2 at around midnight.

    Iceland Is Doing Things Right. If you are looking for the top country using renewable energy, you might assume it’s one of the big dogs. While China leads the world in hydropower production and Germany has its finger on solar energy, there’s no country doing things quite like Iceland. Yes, that little northern country famous for pop-culture exports like Bjorn has quietly been doing renewable energy right. Hydroelectricity makes up over 75% of Iceland’s power production. The rest comes from other renewable sources like solar, wind, and geothermal. Since there are plenty of volcanoes around the country, they have no shortage of heat to keep themselves warm all year long.