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Britain has 'first coal-free week since 1800s' as more renewables become available

Britain has 'first coal-free week since 1800s' as more renewables become available
Copyright REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo
Copyright REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo
By Cristina Abellan Matamoros
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The UK has gone a week without coal power for the first since 1882.


The UK has gone a week without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since the 1800s, seen as a positive move for the climate.

National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO), which runs the network in England, Scotland, and Wales, tweeted the news on Wednesday.

They said the coal-free week had run from 13.24 BST (14.24 CEST) on Wednesday, May 1 to 13.24 BST on Wednesday, May 8.

Fintan Slye, director of NGESO, said: "As more and more renewables come onto our energy system, coal-free runs like this are going to be a regular occurrence. We believe that by 2025 we will be able to fully operate Great Britain’s electricity system with zero carbon."

The operator said form May 1-8 the UK's energy had instead been generated by natural gas (46%); nuclear (21.2%); wind (10.7%); imports (9.9%); biomass (6%); solar (5%) and hydro (1.1%).

The UK government has pledged to phase out coal-based electricity by 2025.

If it keeps down this track the UK would join seven other member states who have phased out of coal energy: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, and Belgium, according to Climate Action Network Europe.

The NGO said that nine other members remained committed to stopping using coal power by 2030 at the latest: Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Ireland, France, Portugal, Italy, and the Netherlands.

Germany plans to phase out of coal by 2038 at the latest. Earlier this month, German President Frank Steinmeier received the so-called ‘last piece of black coal’.

But the country has a complicated relationship with the resource. Black coal is just one of the many types of coal that power over 35% of the nation. Last year in the town of Hambach, protesters and police clashed over a court order to move activists out of a forest which had been earmarked for the expansion of a coal mine next door.

Spain has ongoing discussions about phasing out of coal but they haven't made any commitments in this area so far.

Members that don't have a phasing out plan are mainly in eastern Europe: Poland, Slovakia, Czechia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia and Greece.

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