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Britain sets new record for coal-free power generation

28 April 2020

National Grid ESO announces that Britain has set a new record for the longest period of coal-free electricity generation.

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The previous record – of 18 days, six hours and 10 minutes – was broken at 6.10am on 28 April 2020. It marked over 438 hours since the UK’s energy system used coal-fired plants – the longest period since 1882. 

April has also been a record-breaker for renewable electricity, with a new solar generation record of 9.68GW. 

National Grid ESO reports that weather continues to play the central role in determining the mix of electricity, but reduced levels of electricity demand play a role too. Lockdown measures in place since late March have seen a significant reduction in demand across the country, with an increase in domestic consumption being outweighed by reduced industrial demand. The change in demand, along with frequent sunny and windy spells across the country, are all contributing factors to the latest records.

Fintan Slye, Director of ESO, said “2020 is shaping up to be a record-breaking year for Great Britain’s electricity system, and I’ve little doubt we’ll see more exciting developments as the growth and performance of renewables continues to transform our grid at an astonishing rate.

“Within a matter of days, we’ve seen a new solar generation record, and the longest period of coal-free operation in Britain. That follows two of the greenest months on record at the start of the year, underlining the progress that’s being made towards our target of being able to operate the electricity system entirely with zero-carbon sources by 2025.

“We’ve been planning, investing in the system and working with industry for years to make sure we’re ready to run a coal-free system with an increasing share of renewables, introducing new technologies and more intelligent ways of using energy to make sure the system is flexible and resilient to the challenges that decarbonisation brings.

“A zero-carbon grid is a stretching target, but it’s crucially important – and milestones like our latest coal-free run show that Great Britain is leading the world in transitioning to net zero.”

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