In a significant milestone, Britain marks two months of coal-free power generation today. This is the longest period the country has gone without coal since the industrial revolution began over 200 years ago. This surpasses the previous record achieved last June when Britain forged coal for 18 days, 6 hours and 10 minutes.

While the coronavirus outbreak saw a plummet in demands for electricity, halted manufacturing, and forced millions of people to stay at home, attributing to the coal-free record, it isn’t the only reason behind the success. In recent years, many countries have been moving further away from fossil fuels, instead welcoming renewable sources into the fold.

Renewable sources are contributing more than ever to the National Grid due to the sunny weather and an increase of facilities. This is a far cry from where Britain was only a mere decade ago.

The Long Road to Renewable Energy

Ten years ago, the UK energy network looked a whole lot different. Around 40% of electricity derived from coal while only 3% came from wind and solar. Attitudes surrounding renewable energy leaned towards the costly side, and the benefits were largely unknown by the general public.

Now, as climate change and global warming become a pressing environmental issue, renewable energy is mostly accepted as a sustainable alternative. The UK now has the biggest offshore wind industry in the world and has recently completed the largest single wind farm in Yorkshire.

Even more impressive, the country’s biggest power plant, Drax, has committed itself to phasing out coal completely by March next year. Additionally, the UK is promising to shut down the remaining three coal plants within the next five years.

Change is undoubtedly on the horizon, and it’s not just focused on eradicating coal but all fossil fuels. This year, renewables were responsible for generating more than all fossil fuels put together – an unheard-of feat for Britain. Around 37% of energy stemmed from renewables, while 35% came from fossil fuels.

The Harmful Impact of Fossil Fuels

At this point, it’s significantly evident that fossil fuels are not only contributing to global warming as they trap carbon dioxide and other gasses into the atmosphere, but also that humanity will soon run out of it. Looking for an alternative solution kills two birds with one stone and the clean energy sector comes with a wealth of advantages – including the creation of jobs, lowering energy bills and resiliency.

If we hope to combat climate change before it’s too late, turning to renewables looks to be an essential step.  

Aisha Mohamed