The UK stops using coal to generate electricity 135 years later


It was the first nation to use coal to generate electricity, 135 years later, is the first of the great world economies in phase it out (little by little but without pause).

Last Friday, for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the United Kingdom lived a full day without burning a kilo of coal to generate electricity. However it is not the end of this fossil energy source, which contributes strongly to climate change, although most environmental activists agree to celebrate it as a historic milestone.

It happened between 23.00pm on Thursday and 23.00pm on Friday last week. Twenty-four hours in which the West Burton 1 Power Station, the only operational coal-fired power plant, stopped supplying electricity to the national grid. The next day in the afternoon, the gas plants supplied 47% of the country's electricity; nuclear power plants and wind turbines, 18% each; solar panels, 10%, and 6% it came from biomass.

The date is not accidental. On spring, when the days are lengthen and households stop using heating / heat pumps, and still do not use air conditioning (I understand that in the UK it is not used with the same frequency than in Andalusia). The demand for electricity tends to be lower, in addition, Fridays tend to be days of the week with less consumption, and to finish it off the day was in the vacation period Easter (many factories were closed).

But it is not an isolated episode (experts say), rather it is part of a trend more than clear. There have already been other episodes no charcoal, although shorter, in the last year, and everything indicates that days like Friday will be repeated each time with more frenquency.

Last year, coal contributed "only" 9% of the energy generated in the country, compared to 23% in 2015 and 40% in 2012. In the last five years, two thirds of the installed capacity in the country for generating electricity from coal has been eliminated. The government's plans are to close the last coal plant in 2025.

Coal plant

In the weeks leading up to the settlement against the climate change december 2015 in Paris, the British Government announced its intention to phase out coal until 2025 (deadline). Coal plants have been shutting down while solar and wind power they have been proliferating throughout the country, driven by premiums introduced by the Government to meet its demanding commitments to reduce greenhouse gases.

Not even the very criticized Theresa May's change in attitude towards renewable energies has managed to curb the trend that has placed the United Kingdom as the sixth country in the world in installed capacity of solar energy (Who would say).

In his day, carbon was the engine of the industrial age of the United Kingdom, where the first plant in London in 1882. It was the sustenance of the economy and the lives of hundreds of mining towns distributed all over the country and contributed to those characteristic mists of the british weather.

Coal industry

Fortunately soon it will be up to the past in UK, as it already is in countries like Switzerland, Belgium or Norway. “The first day without coal in the UK since Industrial Revolution marks a turning point in the energy transition”Said Hannah Martin of Greenpeace UK. “Just a decade ago, a day without coal would have been unimaginable, and in ten more years our energy system will will have radically transformed again".

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  1.   Josep said

    In spring and Easter electricity consumption decreases, ………… and increases in British holiday destinations.

  2.   Tomas Bigorda said

    Everyone is coming to Spain 😛