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Great Britain smashes no-coal record

It was back on 28 April this year that Great Britain broke the record for the longest period of electricity generation without a contribution from coal.

The previous record of just over 18 days was set in June 2019. And, while a new record was set after 18 days this April, at the time of writing, the coal-free generation period has now exceeded a month.

However, this record applies to the island of Great Britain only, adds energy data analyst EnAppSys, as the Kilroot power station – which burns coal – is still used in Northern Ireland to help with system stability issues.

The new record is due to a reduction in the size of the available generation fleet and low demand due to the coronavirus pricing coal out of the market, says EnAppSys. The last coal station to run was Drax unit 5, which switched off on 9 April.

In Great Britain, only five coal-fired generation units are available to run, says EnAppSys – one at Drax near Selby, two at Ratcliffe-on-Soar near Nottingham, and two at West Burton near Gainsborough. Some extra units are due to become available later in the year ready for the winter, doubling the capacity at these three power stations.

The speed of transformation of the power industry and the ending of its long relationship with coal has been one of the stories of the UK’s transformation into a green energy pioneer.

And the coal-free period may extend for quite a while. Director of EnAppSys Phil Hewitt says: ‘It is difficult to see why any coal stations should run again at the moment, as the low demand due to the coronavirus crisis continues along with the low prices of summer. Indeed, this year should be the first with a coal-free month since coal was first used to create electricity continuously in London by Thomas Edison at Holborn Viaduct in 1882.’

News Item details

Journal title: Energy World

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