Coal power has been a British mainstay for 140+ years. However, between 10.25pm Monday until 5.10am on Thursday, no coal was used in the generation of electricity. According to grid data that was compiled by Bloomberg, this went alongside the fact that Wind Turbines produced more power. As an early adopter of renewable energy, the UK has more offshore wind turbines installed than any other country.

Whilst old traditional power plants close, fields of solar panels are meeting an increase in demand.The government is planning to switch off all coal plants by 2025 and they have also given renewables priority access to the power grid.

Renewable energy

The previous record of 40 coal-free hours was set in October. In 2017, greenhouse gas emissions fell by 3 percent as coal use dropped and renewable investments continued to climb. An analysis by Carbon Brief shows the UK’s CO2 emissions fell by 5.8 percent in 2016 following a record 52 percent reduction in coal use. This is a significant reduction from 22 percent in 1995 and shows how vital steps have been taken to ensure that the UK moves away from coal and other fossil fuels onto renewable energy.

The need to move onto renewable energy is nothing new, the Clean Air Act was passed in 1956, this was following the Great London Smog in 1952 that killed approximately 4000 people. It was after this that the government could no longer deny the effect of coal burning on the atmosphere.

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But previously in 1859 Irish physicist, John Tyndall, was able to prove that greenhouse gasses (GHGs) absorb heat energy and these make up approximately 1 per cent of the earth’s atmosphere. The need to move onto renewables has been a significant issue but took further prominence when the Montreal Protocol was signed 1986, which limited the use of substances that reduce the ozone layer.

The UK government passed the climate change Act 2008 which makes the government legislate for the net UK carbon account for all six Kyoto greenhouse gases for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline. However, the government have been a bit lacklustre in their approach to renewable energy in recent years, Theresa May abolished the department for climate change and has been approving fracking sites and nuclear power initiatives in the country despite protest against those decisions. Legislation is vital for the renewable sector to thrive but has faced increasing in difficulties from a lack of a coherent plan on renewable energy from the government.

Last year, the Green Alliance released a report that stated more than £1 billion of future investments in renewable energy projects vanished during the course of 2016, after the analysis of the then latest government pipeline of infrastructure plans. Beyond, however, investment in wind, solar, biomass power and waste-to-energy projects will decline by 95% between 2017 and 2020, it added. The sector will be looking eagerly to how the government will respond.

The UK has enjoyed a long relationship with coal

The UK has enjoyed a long relationship with coal mining and as one of the first nations to go through the industrial revolution, benefitted significantly from the widespread use. But it was in the 18th century that Britain first adopted the practice of deep shaft coal mining and continued it throughout the century Al the way through the 19th and well into the 20th century where the industry peaked.

There were a lot of practices that were outlawed, for example, the use of women and children due to their cheaper rates was widespread until it was outlawed 1842. It wasn’t until the late 19th century and early 20th century that coal mining technology was developed to be able to mine the puts fully, where it has remained a mainstay within the UK’s energy sector since.