Back to Blogs

Coal Use Declining in the UK

  • Publish Date: Posted about 5 years ago
  • Author: Steve Walia

There's good news for the environment, as the country has hit a new record for clean energy use. In the first week of May, Britain met its power needs without using coal for an entire week. The seven-day stretch was a new record, and the first such period recorded since the Industrial Revolution.

Coal was once the foundation of the country's energy mix, but its usage has been steadily falling, thanks mainly to changing customer and voter attitudes and pressure to adopt carbon-neutral alternatives. Today less than 10% of the UK's power output is produced by coal. The government has been forced to work towards a phased closedown of the country's remaining coal power plants in the next six years. These plants have been ageing and produce damaging carbon emissions, and the rise in green alternatives such as wind and solar means that their economic and social viability simply no longer exists.

Drax found that the coal-free seven-day stretch was made up of 43pc gas, 25pc wind power, 17pc nuclear and a remaining mix of biomass, solar and a small volume of imports from the Netherlands and France.

Today the UK's electricity system has a lesser reliance on polluting coal than any other point in recent history. Only last year, renewable and low-carbon energy sources were able to generate 53pc of the country's electricity needs. Generation from fossil fuels fell by 7pc compared to the previous year.

Analysts recommend that renewable fuel sources could produce 50% of the country's power by 2025, and - with further focus - their use could even exceed fossil fuels by next year. In the meantime, the renewable energy industry is diversifying its technologies, and customers and businesses alike are choosing green tariffs to play their part in creating a cleaner economy.