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British power goes whole week without coal

The British power sector managed to supply electricity for an entire week without burning any coal for power. This marks the first week without coal-based electricity since 1882, when the first coal-fired power plant opened at Holborn in London during Victorian times.

The National Grid Electricity System Operator—which is responsible for the electricity network in Great Britain—reported that the last coal-fired power plant went offline on May 1 at 1:24 pm. Exactly a week later, it was still offline, marking the first coal-free week since the Industrial Revolution. Britain had its first coal-free day about two years ago.

The achievement is due in no small part to the growing UK wind power sector, where advances in scale, efficiency, and lubrication, such as that supplied by Mobil UK stockists, has made both onshore and offshore wind power increasingly competitive.

Coal is still a major element of the UK’s energy mix, but the growing renewable capacity means that less is needed. It is used instead as a backup to meet surges in demand that other sources, including renewables, cannot meet on their own.

The government is committed to phasing out power stations that use coal by 2025, however. According to the Committee on Climate Change, the reductions in coal use so far have resulted in the UK halving its emissions from electricity generation. The director of National Grid ESO, Fintan Slye, even believes Britain’s electricity generation system could be zero carbon by 2025 if fundamental changes were to be made.

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