Science

Britain has had its first coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution

The government has pledged to phase out coal by 2025.

In a huge environmental milestone, Britain has experienced its first full day without generating any electricity from coal since the Industrial Revolution.

The National Grid confirmed the news last night, making it the first time no coal has been used for a continuous 24 hours since use of fossil fuel began.

It is thought to be the first time the country has been without electricity from coal since the world’s first centralised public coal-fired generator opened at Holborn Viaduct in London, in 1882.

The electricity grid has been coal-free a number of times since last spring, as gas and renewables such as wind and solar play an increasing role in providing the country with power.

The longest continuous period until now was 19 hours – first achieved on a weekend last May, and matched on Thursday.

Coal has seen significant declines in recent years, accounting for just 9% of electricity generation in 2016, down from around 23% the year before, as coal plants closed or switched to burning biomass such as wood pellets.

The Government has pledged to phase out coal – the most polluting fossil fuel – from the system by 2025 as part of efforts to cut carbon emissions in the UK.

Hannah Martin, from Greenpeace UK, said: “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.”

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