First ever fortnight of coal-free operation

National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) has confirmed the first ever fortnight of coal-free operation of Great Britain's electricity system.

First ever fortnight of coal-free operation

This surpasses the previous record of 193 hours and 25 minutes (eight days, one hour and 25 minutes), which was set just a few weeks ago on 9 May.

The last coal generator came off the system at 3.12pm on Friday 17th May – meaning National Grid Electricity System Operator reached a fortnight with no coal at 3.12pm on Friday 31st May.

ESO – a legally separate business within the National Grid Group – sits at the heart of the electricity system for Great Britain and uses a mix of generation to balance the system and ensure that, whatever the generation mix, electricity is always there when needed.

Fintan Slye, director of ESO, said: “As more and more renewables come onto the system, we’re seeing things progress at an astonishing rate. We also broke our solar record for GB this month – with one day seeing over a quarter of the country powered by the sun. Our stats also tell us that decarbonisation levels have decreased by over 50% between 2013-2018; 2018 was our greenest year to date, and so far, 2019 looks like it has the potential to beat it.

“We’ve been planning for reduced running of coal plant for many years, as well as managing increasing levels of renewables. This means that network investments have been made and grid operator services have been procured such that we can operate a network with no coal plant.

“As we predicted when we first broke the record for a week of no coal generation at the start of the month, events such as today’s will become the ‘new normal’. As we move towards 2025, we believe that we will be able to operate Great Britain’s electricity system with zero carbon generation.

“There is still a lot of work to do but operating a zero carbon electricity system in 2025, whenever there is sufficient renewable generation, is a major stepping stone to full decarbonisation of the entire electricity system. This will enable new technologies and removes barriers to ever increasing levels of renewables.”


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