UK PowerIndustry News

National Grid announces coal-free record


s of Tuesday (16 June) the UK went coal-free for 67 days, 22 hours and 55 minutes, an

impressive record, which has not been seen since the industrial revolution. Coal provided 40% of Britain’s

electricity a decade ago, but since the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe, the demand of electricity plummeted. The May electricity report revealed the grid was at its ‘all time greenest’ on 24th May. The report by National Grid ESO added how this day set a record of low carbon intensity at 46gCO2Kwh. According to the International

Energy Agency (IEA) the effects of the pandemic mean a potential 8% fall of the world’s CO2 emissions, the biggest decline ever. During the past two months the country has still been running, keeping houses warm and streets lit up, just not in the way it used to. The demand during this time was

largely met by Gas (32%), Nuclear (21%) and Wind (16%) with Biomass (9%) and Solar (9%) playing a smaller role. Last year, 54% of UK electricity

generation came from low-carbon sources, including renewables (37%) and wind (20%). Fossil fuels were at a record low of 43%, which contrasts

12 Forest Bioenergy Review Summer 2020

its 2010 figures of 75% generation, according to Carbon Brief analysis. As the UK progresses to move away

from fossil fuels, it is important to see what sustainable sources of energy will be relied on more as time goes on. Drax power station in Yorkshire

generates 5% of the country’s electricity and has found a greener way of doing so. The power station, which once was

the biggest consumer of coal in the UK, claims to use sustainably sourced wood pellets from working forests in the US South, Canada, and Europe, to generate low carbon renewable electricity.

Wood pellets are a compressed

form of woody biomass which is used as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional fossil fuels. Biomass delivers both a decarbonised economy and healthy forests. According to Drax, managed forests,

where their wood pellets are sourced, can often absorb more carbon than untouched forests, there is a healthy demand for wood contributors to growing forests and the surplus growth has quadrupled in the US South. Over the last decade, Drax has

converted four of the power stations six generating units, to use sustainable biomass instead of coal.

The increasing use of renewable

energy sources see fossil fuels, which the world has relied on for so long, being replaced with a more sustainable alternative. A report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) suggests biomass could provide 60% of global renewable energy by 2030. The UK is working to bring all

greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, making the two-month coal free record a step in the right direction to ending the contribution to global warming. Carmella Haswell Email:


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