UK goes first day without coal since Industrial Revolution

  • 22/04/2017

For the first time in more than 130 years, Britain has powered itself without coal for an entire day.

The UK's National Grid says it has been able to power all of Great Britain using renewable sources of energy.

It breaks the previous record of 19 continuous hours which was set only in May last year, and is a record which none of the country's residents would have even noticed in their day-to-day lives.

It is the first time the country has been run without coal since the world's first centralised public coal-fired generator opened at Holborn Viaduct in London in 1882, ITV reports.

Coal was a mainstay in the UK's energy mix until the 1990s.

Coal use has been in decline in recent years, making up just 9 percent of electricity production in 2016, down from 23 percent the year before as the country moves to a low-carbon economy.

The government announced it wanted to phase out the remaining coal plants by 2025.

But while a day without coal sounds impressive, last year Portugal went 107 continuous hours only using renewable energy - wind, solar and hydro.

And that record came just days after Germany announced clean energy had powered almost all of its electricity needs for a day. At numerous points, the power prices were in the negatives - essentially meaning customers were being paid to use electricity.

New Zealand Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes says the achievement is huge considering Britain has been "synonymous with coal" since the Industrial Revolution.

"It's symptomatic of what's happening around the world. Renewables are now cheaper than fossil fuels, like coal and gas in many cases, so this is why I think it's important that the country can set an ambitious and, as this shows, achievable target to get 100 percent renewables in New Zealand."