On Friday, April 21, 2017, the United Kingdom had its first official coal-free day since the 19th century. This marks an extremely historic milestone in Britain’s attempt to shift away from carbon fuels.
Coal-fired power generation is known to contribute heavily to climate change. Burning coal produces just as much carbon dioxide as it does to burn natural gas. We should attempt to reduce the world’s reliance on coal, by encouraging the use of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power instead.
UK’s Coal History
Historically, the U.K. was the first country in the world to use coal for electricity. Thomas Edison built the first ever coal-fired power station in Holburn, London back in 1882. This was considered absolutely groundbreaking for the time. Ever since that fateful day in 1882, coal burning has generally had nothing but success and expansion. That is, until the gradual industry decline of recent years. In 2015 the last deep coal mine closed, although open cast mining continued.
Before the complete coal shut down on April 21st, the longest coal-free period in the U.K. had been in 2016 and lasted only 19 hours. The head of energy at Greenpeace UK, Hannah Martin remarked, “The first day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution marks a watershed in the energy transition. A decade ago, a day without coal would have been unimaginable, and in 10 years’ time our energy system will have radically transformed again”.
Going Coal-Free in the UK by 2025
Fortunately, the government has announced that it aims to switch off all coal plants in the country by 2025 through the Paris Agreement. As a general advocate of renewable energy the UK has more offshore wind turbines installed than any other country in the world, as well as fields of solar panels with as much capacity at seven nuclear reactors.
The head of climate and energy at WWF, Gareth Redmond King said that this change was a “Significant milestone in our march towards the green economic revolution.” Hopefully this dramatic, environmental step forward will be used as an example for other cities and countries around the world. We can only hope that in the future coal-free operations will become increasingly more common.