Coal’s daily share of Britain’s power has faded away rapidly over the past few years. Whereas coal produced at least 50 percent of Britain’s energy most days of the year in 2012, coal has hardly contributed to the grid this year. In fact, the UK has gone without coal-fired power generation for its longest stretch since the Industrial Revolution, breaking the existing record of 18 consecutive days this morning.
The 18-day stretch has broken the UK’s previous record, which was set on 4 June 2019, partly because of a collapse in demand for electricity during the coronavirus lockdown and because of greater use of solar power. On Monday the demand was forecast to fall almost a fifth below the usual levels in April, according to the data. The lower overall demand for electricity means low-carbon energy sources are able to make up a greater proportion of the energy system than usual.
The collapse of coal and the rise of renewable energy sources has led to a drastic reduction in carbon emissions from the UK power sector. Since 2012, the average carbon intensity of the grid – the number of emissions required to produce a one-kilowatt hour of energy – has declined by more than two-thirds, from 507g of CO2 to 161g.