Source: Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis
Britain, the birthplace of coal power, is set this year to use more electricity from zero-carbon sources such as wind, solar and nuclear than from fossil fuel plants for the first time, the country’s National Grid said on Friday.
Britain was home to the world’s first coal-fueled power plant in the 1880s, and coal was its dominant electricity source and a major economic driver for the next century. But last week it became the first G7 country to commit to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, a target requiring a big increase in low-carbon power, and an even steeper reduction in fossil fuel use.
“The incredible progress that Britain has made in the past 10 years means we can now say 2019 will be the year zero-carbon power beats fossil fuel fired generation for the first time,” National Grid CEO John Pettigrew said.
Data from National Grid shows low-carbon power generation contributed around 48% of Britain’s electricity in the first five months of 2019 while fossil fuels such as coal and gas-fired plants contributed around 47%. The rest comes from biomass and storage.
The transition has been largely due to a huge increase in Britain’s wind power capacity, with wind contributing almost a fifth of the country’s power in the first five months of 2019, up from just 1% in 2009.
The increase in zero-carbon power marks a huge shift from a decade ago when coal and gas plants provided around three-quarters of the country’s electricity. Britain plans to phase out all coal-fired power generation by 2025 and further cuts in greenhouse emissions will be vital if the country is to meet the net-zero target, the government’s climate advisers have said.