The British administration has been very proactive in their bid to limit coal powered stations, which is ironic considering that the country played an instrumental role in the adoption of coal as a viable fuel that powered the British Industrial Revolution many centuries ago.
In 2017, only 7% of the power produced in the UK had been generated by coal which is a significant step in the direction of environmental preservation, considering that in 2014 UK relied on coal for 40% of its power. The country is aiming to be completely coal-free by the year 2025.
2017 also marked the first year when Britain was able to produce power for one whole day without its power plants burning any coal to fulfill the country’s electricity requirements.
Coal Mining on the Decline
This movement towards greener and more environmentally-friendly power generation practices was endorsed even further when the proposal to build an open pit coal mine in Northumberland was dismissed by the Communities Secretary on grounds of climate change reservations.
The proposed project, which would have been completed by 2025 and provided jobs and livelihood to almost 100 people, would have contributed to the global climate change along with the annihilation of various natural landscapes and historical resources.
Coal mining has been on the decline in the UK in recent years which is backed up by statistical data illustrating that in 1944 there were 157 operative open cast coal mines in the country but, by the end of 2016, the number of operative open cast coal mines had fallen to just 17.
In addition to open cast mining, deep mines have also stopped production as of 2016 even though five of UK’s deep coal mines are still in operation.
Same Story with Coal Use
In addition to the decline of coal production, the sourcing and consumption of coal is on the decline too, which debunks the claims of mining companies that the UK would be reliant on coal imports to fulfill their requirements; statistical data illustrates that in 2001, the UK had mines producing up to 32 million tons and still needing to import additional 36 million metric tons to satisfy local demand.
That is why, the production of local coal in the UK reached its all-time high in 2006 and 2013 when the country was producing 51 million metric tons of coal. Fast forward to 2016 and the country was only producing 4 million metric tons of coal and importing 8 million metric tons sourced from other countries.
This illustrates the UK’s movement away from coal consumption and its reliance towards more energy-efficient and greener sources of energy. The movement away from coal consumption is met by criticism from local mining companies who believe that the government would now need to import coal from other countries like Russia to fulfill industrial and domestic requirements rather than source locally produced coal in the UK.
UK’s Sustainable Power Generation Plans
The main aim of the UK’s leadership in power production is not only to make the process more sustainable but also make power more affordable for the masses. This would be done by the UK switching to gas, nuclear and wind for the generation of sustainable energy. By October of 2017, wind, solar, and hydro helped to generate 25% of the country’s power which was a new record set for that month.
Since this milestone, more and more companies have become actively involved in setting up wind farms which would drastically reduce the price of energy in the UK. A contract bid for energy supply was recently awarded to an offshore wind company which would supply electricity at £57.50 per megawatt which was almost half of the price of electricity in 2012.
Electricity production in the UK at this point is the most efficient and cleanest in history and it is expected that this year for several hours, for the first time ever, solar, wind, and hydro will provide more than half of Britain’s entire energy and power.