Mane Energy Issue 10 - July 2018 - Page 9


In April 2017, the UK power grid achieved its first coal-free day since its inception during

the Industrial Revolution. This April, the UK went over three full days without coal – breaking a coal-free energy record. Coal-free days are now commonplace as sources like gas, nuclear, wind and solar are increasingly popular alternatives. During the colder months this year, especially with the “beast from the east” ravaging us with record-breaking lows, there was a demand for gas and coal power stations to provide heat to our homes. Conversely, once the warmer weather came along in April gas, renewables and nuclear sources were able to meet the UK’s power needs allowing for a stretch of coal-free days. That begs the question, do we still need coal power? With alternative and cleaner energy sources playing a larger role the power mix, the UK can certainly do without the dirty properties of coal that continue pollute our environment.

The UK has unveiled plans to shut down all remaining coal power plants by 2025 – 7 years from now, but we could probably pulled the plug earlier than that with little repercussion. The Coal to Clean report in May states that 95% of the required renewables growth to replace coal is already contracted or under construction and the government has committed additional funding for the remainder. Coal also represented only 7% of the power generated in the UK in 2017 and is quickly dying off.

The government estimates that the remaining coal power plants are unprofitable, not only due to carbon taxes but also due to low prices of alternatives. In just the last five years, coal production and power generation has had a steep and fast decline meanwhile renewable energy is increasing year on year.

2017 was the UK ‘greenest year’ ever as renewables broke several records throughout the year. 2018 is already shaping up to be ever greener as wind power overtook nuclear for the first time in history across an entire quarter providing more electricity than the eight nuclear power stations in the first three months of 2018.

And while the colder months means the demand for more electricity, going forward there will be plenty of options available without having to resort to the dirty fossil fuel. So while we may have coal around until 2025, coal-free days will be the norm going forward.

Read the Coal to Clean report here.