Update: Since writing this article, Business Green reports that the record set last week has already been smashed. As of 10am Tuesday (UK time), the country had gone 72 hours without coal—with coal-free generation projected to carry on through much of the day!
It wasn't that long ago that the UK was marking the first time it had gone 24 hours without burning coal for electricity since the Industrial Revolution. But that record has now been well and truly smashed.
Bloomberg reports that between 10.25 last Monday evening and 5.10am of Thursday last week, British power stations burned absolutely no coal at all. That's a whopping 55 hours of coal-free electricity production, adding yet another impressive data point to the country's recent and impressive progress on decarbonizing its electricity supply.To be fair, critics will point out that some British power stations are now burning wood, not coal—and that this practice is certainly not carbon-free, and may even be more polluting than the coal it set out to replace. That said, however, if you head over to the extremely useful I Am Kate to go through the energy source stats for the coal-free period in question (also shown in the screenshot above), it appears there was zero biomass being burned during that same period too, thanks in large part to a huge spike in wind generation which also displaced a good chunk of natural gas demand too.
All of this bodes well for the continued decarbonization of Britain, especially if the government does finally enshrine a net zero emissions goal for 2050 into law. Because as the electricity grid gets greener, the next step will be to start electrifying the transportation sector—including using vehicle-to-grid capabilities to potentially incorporate even more renewables into the mix.
I look forward to a day when 55 hours of coal-free electricity isn't news at all. But for now, I think everyone involved in this rather remarkable achievement deserves a hearty pat on the back.