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UK Day Without Coal Set to Make History

Image: UK Day Without Coal Set to Make History
UK is aiming to go a day without coal for its energy generation as it ramps up to its elimination by 2025. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

By Jen Krausz   |   Friday, 21 Apr 2017 05:52 PM

The UK plans to spend an entire day Friday without generating any electricity from coal for the first time since opening the first coal-fired power station in 1882.

The National Grid told the BBC that the longest period without coal generation before Friday was 19 hours, which was accomplished last May. The National Grid didn’t guarantee a coal-free day, but said it was likely.

Use of coal has fallen in recent years as energy generators switched to burning biomass or renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, the BBC reported. Currently, the UK gets half its electricity from gas power plants, 30 percent from renewables, and the rest from nuclear power, National Grid head of operations Duncan Burt told Bloomberg.

The government’s goal is to shut down all remaining coal plants by 2025, Bloomberg reported. They expect to have more coal-free days in June and July when increasing sunshine will increase the amount of energy gained from solar power. Britain already generates more power from the sun than from coal, as of last July.

“A decade ago, a day without coal would have been unimaginable, and in 10 years’ time our energy system will have radically transformed again,” Greenpeace UK energy and climate team leader Hannah Martin told Bloomberg via email.

The push toward cleaner and more renewable energy sources comes as the EU is requiring members to generate at least 20 percent of their energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020, Bloomberg reported. 

Twitter users were struck by the significance of the day, calling it “great” and “historic.”

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The UK plans to spend an entire day Friday without generating any electricity from coal for the first time since opening the first coal-fired power station in 1882.
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