[Ferro-Alloys.com] Britain set a new record on Tuesday by going more than 18 days without generating power from coal, the National Grid has confirmed, largely due to reduced industrial energy demand amid the novel coronavirus lockdown.
This is the longest run without coal power in Britain－which includes England, Scotland and Wales－since the first coal-fired power plant opened in London in 1882.
The previous record of 18 days, 6 hours and 10 minutes, set in June last year, was broken at 6:10 am on Tuesday.
The National Grid Electricity System Operator, or ESO, said that lockdown measures in place since late March due to COVID-19 have seen a significant reduction in demand across Britain, with an increase in domestic consumption being offset by reduced industrial demand.
Energy market analysts Independent Commodity Intelligence Services say that power demand dropped by at least 10 percent in almost all European countries in the first two weeks of April, compared to the five-year average for the period.
Jonathan Marshall, head of analysis at the London-based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, or ECIU, said that "the (novel) coronavirus crisis will accelerate the energy transition" as systems with renewables contributing most of power output "offer valuable practice in managing the grid of the future".
The ESO also said that recent sunny conditions in Britain led to a new peak solar generation record of 9.68 gigawatts at 12:30 on April 20.
"2020 is shaping up to be a record-breaking year for Great Britain's electricity system, and I've little doubt we'll see more exciting developments as the growth and performance of renewables continues to transform our grid at an astonishing rate," said Fintan Slye, director of ESO.
"Within a matter of days we've seen a new solar generation record, and the longest period of coal-free operation in Britain. And that follows two of the greenest months on record at the start of the year, underlining the progress that's being made towards our target of being able to operate the electricity system entirely with zero carbon sources by 2025," Slye added.
Fossil fuels still generated the largest proportion of Britain's energy production over the record-breaking period. In the last month, natural gas accounted for 32.6 percent of the energy mix, followed by nuclear power at 19.7 percent, and wind power at 17.8 percent. Biomass, solar, and hydroelectric power accounted for the majority of the remainder.
Marshall estimates that the UK will completely phase out coal in few years' time, and that gas will play a "mere bit-part" in power generation by the end of the decade.
"It is moments like these that can provide valuable insights into keeping the lights on as we move towards a net zero economy," he said.（chinadaily.com.cn）
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