UK Achieves Whole Week Without Coal-Fired Power for the First Time Since the Industrial Revolution

The national electricity grid has confirmed the big news.
Jessica Miley

The United Kingdom has gone a week without using coal to power the national electricity grid. It’s the first time the country has gone without using coal to generate electricity since 1882. This marks an important milestone in the UK’s bid towards greener power sources.

The last coal generator was removed from the system on May 1, according to the National Grid Electricity System Operator. Wednesday at 1.24pm marked a full week without reliance on coal.


The news doesn’t mean coal has been exited from the system completely coal-fired power stations still play a huge role in proving backup power during peak loads.

Wind energy takes priority

Power from renewable sources such as wind has been prioritized to deliver the electricity to the grid. Coal prices are currently skyrocketing which has also helped push the UK’s grid away from the fossil fuel.

Fintan Slye, Director of the national grid ESO says: "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."

All eyes on 2025

The UK hopes to phase out all coal-fired power by 2025. The week without coal-fired power is a landmark to be celebrated, but there are still critics who say the government can do more.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says the UK needs to create better conditions for adopting renewable energies and rethink some of its current policies which hinder the move towards green energy.

The CCC’s chief executive, Chris Stark said current proposals like increasing VAT on solar panels are not compatible with reaching the 2025 target. It’s hoped that future coal-free weeks will become the ‘new normal’ for the UK and set a precedent for other coal-dependent nations.

The UK was the home for the world's first coal-fired power plant in the late 1880s. In the 1950s the highly polluting plants were moved out of cities to more remote areas.

The UK is home to many expansive wind projects that will help push into a greener future. On September 6, 2018, the Walney Extension took the title of the world’s largest offshore wind farm, covering an impressive 145 sq km with 87 turbines from MHI Vestas and Siemens Gamesa.

The wind farm is located in the Irish Sea that is situated near Walney Island, Cumbria. With the operation of Waley Extension, UK can generate 659 Megawatts of energy, enough to power 600,000 UK homes.

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