On Friday, April 21st 2017, Great Britain went 24 hours without burning coal for energy. For the first time in about 135 years, since the Industrial Revolution, Great Britain did not burn any coal, and relied purely on natural gas, nuclear energy, wind, imported energy, biomass, and solar power for the twenty-four hours without coal. This power supplied was made up of 50.3% natural gas, 21.2% nuclear energy, 12.2% wind, 8.3% imported energy, 6.7% biomass, and 3.6% solar power. This in fact adds up to 102.3% of power, more than 100%.
This is not something that Great Britain decided to try out one day. In fact, they have been preparing for this. They have previously completed successful runs of a few hours during the day without the usage and burning of coal. Just as Great Britain was the first country in the world to have a coal-fired power station back in 1882, with the completion of the twenty-four hours without the burning of coal for energy, Great Britain now has become the first country to ever rely on other forms of energy to supply power to their grid for a 24 hour period.
While the news of a 24 hour period of coal-free energy in the UK makes headlines, what doesn’t is the fact that 25 percent of UK’s energy is already being produced through renewable energies, such as wind, solar, and biomass. The only issue is that while these methods of energy production are renewable, they are not always reliable. Storms, clouds, little to no wind, etc can the impede the production of energy for the grid, leaving the country without power. This is why for now the burning of coal remains.
One solution that has been found for this issue is nuclear energy. In fact, Scotland has shut down its remaining coal-burning plants and has been coal-free since 2016. With renewables slowly being able to provide the energy and power needed to keep the grid up and running, the future for coal is looking dim. A number of countries including Germany, Canada, and many other have plans on being coal-free within the next decade.