Plant Operation

Britain Goes Coal-Free For One Week With Key Role For Nuclear

By David Dalton
9 May 2019

9 May (NucNet): Britain has gone an entire week without using coal to generate electricity for the first time in modern history, with low-carbon generation – which includes nuclear power – accounting for 49.6% of supply, a record for clean electricity.

The National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) said on 8 May that at 13:24 Britain’s electric system had been coal-free for 168 hours, something it predicted would become standard in the near future.

ESO director Fintan Slye said that as more and more renewables come onto the energy system, coal-free runs are going to be a regular occurrence.

He said: “We believe that by 2025 we will be able to fully operate Great Britain’s electricity system with zero carbon.”

The UK is set to phase out coal use by 2025, helped by an increase in renewable energy sources such as offshore wind.

The UK has just six remaining coal-fired power stations that now primarily serve as back-up power in times of peak demand or when supplies are lost from elsewhere.

Gas, nuclear and wind all now provide more power to the grid, a sharp change since the beginning of this decade when coal was still one of the UK’s primary sources of electricity generation.

According to International Atomic Energy Agency data, Britain’s 15 commercial nuclear plants provide around 17.7% of the country’s electricity.

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