That milestone in turn was smashed on Monday afternoon and the UK passed the 72-hour mark at 10am on Tuesday. The coal-free run is expected to continue until later in the day, though some analysts said it was likely to end when demand peaks on Tuesday evening.
Without the fossil fuel, two-fifths of Britain’s electricity is currently being supplied by gas, followed by nuclear and windfarms on a fifth each.
The rest is coming from biomass burned at Drax power station in North Yorkshire, imports from France and the Netherlands, and a smattering of solar. Drax said it expected to go without coal on Tuesday.
The coal-free records are a reversal from the recent highs that coal plant owners experienced during the so-called “beast from the east” cold snap.
During cold weather in February and early March, demand for gas to use in heating pushed up the price of gas for power, which brought coal power stations online.
However, overall power demand is now much lower following the recent warm weather, making it easier for gas, renewables and nuclear to cover much of the UK’s needs.
National Grid has forecast electricity demand this summer will be lower than last year, with minimum demand at 17GW and peak at 33.7GW. Demand on Tuesday is expected to peak at about 35GW.
Experts said to expect more milestones like today’s. ““Ever rising renewable capacity in the UK will see these records fall more and more frequently, clearly showing progress made over the past decade or two,” said Jonathan Marshall, an analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.
A carbon tax, the cheaper price of gas and the rise of renewables have all hit coal operators. The government has set a deadline of October 2025 for phasing out coal entirely.
Two coal plant owners have said they will shut this year, which will leave the UK with six coal power stations including Drax, which has hinted it will close before the 2025 target.
This article first appeared on the Guardian
edie is part of the Guardian Environment Network