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  • Paul Ingram

Another Coal Free Record! UK coal free energy now officially a trend?

At 3:12pm Friday afternoon (31st of May) the National Grid ESO confirmed that the UK had surpassed a record two weeks without using any coal powered energy generation.

This makes it the third time in under two months that the coal-free record has been beaten. The first being over Easter weekend in April, at a total of 90 hours 45 minutes, beating the previous record of 76 hours. The second was earlier in May, lasting for one full week, at 168 hours without coal. Now this new record going for a full two consecutive weeks.

Fintan Slye, director of the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), said these coal free periods would become the "new normal".

Coal free is obviously a great step in reducing the UK's harmful emission output, but also an important showcase for showing that the UK can actually begin to not need coal, and so inspire confidence that the UK governments plans to progressively phase out coal power stations by 2025, is actually an achievable target.

However, to fully realise this, Mr Slye said that there was "still a lot of work to do".

Natural Gas has taken up a lot of the slack from the reduction in coal. Though natural gas does produce a lower level of emissions that coal, it isn't perfect, but a step in the right direction. During the two week coal-free period, gas made up around 40% of power generation.

Renewables are growing and helping to fill the gaps, but aren't as reliable as gas or coal, due to their reliance on nature. For example, on the 14th of May, solar panels produced 25% of all power generated. This however won't be as large during the winter months.

The UK does have the largest off-shore wind capacity on the planet, and more investment into clean technologies will result in higher efficiencies and lowering price.

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