Mid April 2017, Britain’s renewable energy proponents celebrated a milestone. During a full 24-hour period, Britain stopped burning coal to generate its electricity. Instead, the country has turned to cleaner technologies, such as gas-fired and nuclear power stations, as well as wind and solar renewables.
The Impact of Burning Coal
The world’s first public coal-fired generator opened in London in 1882. In the 1900s, the coal industry became the backbone for many mining towns throughout the United Kingdom.
Coal formed the backbone of the industrial revolution and was the fuel that powered Britain into the 21st century. But it’s time to begin to say farewell. ~ stated Juliet Davenport, chief executive of renewable electricity supplier Good Energy
Yet, over the last couple of decades, coal-fired power plants have become less economic. About two-thirds of the plants have been shut down. Others have chosen to convert to burning biomass, such as wood pellets.
Furthermore, burning coal is the most polluting way to generate electricity. It generates twice as much carbon as burning natural gas. Many believe coal burning has had a damaging impact on the climate and on air quality.
Transition to Clean and Low-Carbon Energy
As a result, Britain’s government has set a goal to phase out coal by 2025. Other countries, such as Switzerland, Beligium and Norway have already phased out coal. On the other hand, in the United States, coal still accounts for about 30 percent of the country’s electricity.
On several occasions during 2016, coal generation in Britain dropped to zero for several hours at a time. April 21, 2017, is a milestone because this was the first full coal-free day.
The transition towards cleaner, low-carbon energy is definitely underway. Nevertheless, Britain faces the challenges of funding new gas-burning and nuclear plans, without losing the focus on clean renewable technologies. at the same time creating a resilient energy economy that also pursues renewable technologies.
“As the government will highlight, decarbonising our economy will involve a mix of technologies. But the way to develop a climate resilient economy and to be fair to bill payers is to pursue renewables ambitiously and to do so now.” ~ David Nussbaum, the chief executive of the charity WWF
Nussbaum and other supporters of renewables are concerned about the government’s cuts in funding for clean technology such as solar and wind power. Recently, energy secretary Amber Rudd admitted that based on its current policies, the UK may not meet EU target of sourcing 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
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