Britain has been coal-free for two months


It’s been two months since any power plants in Great Britain burned coal.

This landmark moment can be attributed to both the coronavirus lockdown and a sustained movement towards renewable energy.

The coronavirus lockdown caused a decline in the demand for electricity. Britain’s National Grid started shutting down power plants, including the only four that still burn coal. There has been no electricity generated from coal since April 9.

A seismic shift

Coal accounted for almost 40% of all the island’s power just 10 years ago. That’s all changed, thanks to what the BBC describes as “a massive investment in renewable energy over the last decade.”

This year, renewables have accounted for 37% of the National Grid’s electricity. That’s more than fossil fuels, which made up 35%. Nuclear generates about 18%, and imports account for the remainder.

Of the four plants that still burn coal, one is transitioning to burning compressed wood pellets instead, and will have phased out coal by the year’s end. The other three will close within five years.

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