Britain goes a week without coal for first time in over a century

Britain goes a week without coal for first time in over a century
© Greg Nash

Britain went without coal-produced electricity for a week for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, Reuters reported Wednesday.

The move comes as the nation, which revolutionized coal power, aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent compared to 1990 levels in the next three decades.

Britain is trying to move away from coal-fired power completely by 2025, according to Reuters.


Coal plants put out nearly twice as much carbon dioxide as gas-fired power plants, the news outlet noted. According to Reuters, coal plants largely moved out of British cities after the 1950s in order to cut air pollution.

Britain's power transmission network, the National Grid, told Reuters that coal-free weeks will become a regular phenomenon amid the shift to more renewable energy. 

“Just a few years ago we were told Britain couldn’t possibly keep the lights on without burning coal,” Doug Parr, policy director at Greenpeace, told Reuters. “Now coal is quickly becoming an irrelevance, much to the benefit of our climate and air quality, and we barely notice it.”

The Committee on Climate Change, the nation’s independent climate advisory body, recommended last week that Britain aim for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The initiative would require increased renewable energy production, as well as lifestyle changes, such as reducing beef and lamb consumption, according to Reuters.

U.K. power plants went 55 hours without burning coal in April 2018, breaking its previous record of about 40 hours. Wind turbines generated more electricity to compensate during the 55 hours.