Over the bank holiday weekend Britain managed to survive for over 100 hours without using any electricity from coal fired power stations. This is apparently the longest time since the start of the industrial revolution!

This was due to good sunlight (for solar panels) and consistent wind for both onshore and offshore wind farms. Over a year, coal power stations typically contribute around 10 percent to electricity generation, but the projections are for this to reduce over the coming years, especially as offshore wind farms get built, adding many Gigawatts to the nation’s renewable energy pool. There is also a government plan to phase out all coal-fired plants, the largest greenhouse gas emitters by 2025.

Of the 31 Gigawatts powering Britain on 5th May 2019, none was accounted for by the use of coal-fired power stations (1 GW is enough to power 100 million LED lightbulbs).  Renewable energy has contributed an increasing proportion of Britain’s power generation in recent years. In 2018 installed wind capacity exceeded 15 Gigawatts for the very first time.

Sean Kemp, a spokesman for the National Grid, said: “We broke the record this weekend for the longest period of time without coal. The continuous period of time without any coal generation on the system was just over 100 hours.

“It’s becoming a more regular occurrence now.

“More people have installed solar, more coal is coming off and there’s more wind in the system”.

Solar power will achieve grid parity with coal in a third of China’s 31 provinces, according to Citigroup, allowing the renewables sector to continue its rapid expansion in spite of the slashing of government subsidies. This is great news for the whole renewable energy sector in its transition from a subsidy led industry to one based on market forces and supply and demand.

Beijing temporarily scrapped subsidies for most of China’s solar projects in June last year in a move aimed at curbing runaway growth in the photovoltaic industry, which had boomed under generous subsidies.  The end of subsidies caused fears of a sudden slowdown in the roll-out of photovoltaic projects in the world’s largest polluter. China accounted for 29 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions last year, according to the International Energy Agency, with its emissions having risen 2.5 per cent year-on-year. Read more