For the first time since the dawn of the industrial revolution, Britain went through an entire day without burning a lump of coal to generate electricity.
The milestone event on Friday, April 21, underscores the diminishing reliance of the industrial world on coal for power, as renewable energy, natural gas and heightened efficiencies reign. Britain’s first coal-powered electric generation was in 1882.
“Since then, the British economy, one of Europe’s largest, was thought to never have gone without power from coal for a whole working day,” the New York Times reported. “But the trend away from coal as a source of electricity is structural, officials say, with coal-free days likely to become more common. Since 2012, two-thirds of Britain’s coal-fired power generating capacity has been shuttered.”
The report underscores that the major industrial countries are moving away from reliance on coal generation. It is happening in the United States, industry experts say, despite the efforts of the Trump administration to inject new life into America’s coal industry.
“Now on a path to phase out coal-fired power generation altogether by 2025, Britain, also the home of the first steam engine, is currently closing coal plants and stepping up generation from cleaner natural gas and renewables, like wind and solar,” the Times reported.
The newspaper continued: “Symbolically, this is a milestone,” said Sean Kemp, a spokesman for National Grid, Britain’s power grid operator. “A kind of end of an era.”