UK goes coal free as gas, renewables and biomass take up slack


The UK has gone two full months without calling on coal-fired power stations for electricity generation.

Coal use has declined dramatically in recent years, with the few remaining UK plant now only able to stay open if they secure contracts to provide other services.

Rendered uneconomic, unabated coal-fired power stations must close by 2025, though some may be mulling conversion to burn waste, if Simec Atlantis can prove its technology is commercially and technically viable. Others, such as Drax, have mostly converted to biomass, burning wood pellets shipped by boat from forests in US southern states.

National Grid ESO’s data for May states:

  • gas provided 30.6 per cent of generation
  • nuclear 22.96 per cent
  • wind 15.87 per cent
  • solar 11.45 per cent
  • imports 10.22 per cent
  • biomass 8.75 per cent
  • hydro 0.69 per cent
  • coal 0 per cent
Source: National Grid ESO

However, the ESO also states that renewables provided 28 per cent of the generation mix for the month, which equates to the total provided by wind, solar and hydro.

This suggests the ESO has not categorised biomass as renewable. Had it done so, the percentage of power provided by renewables would be higher, at 37 per cent.

The Electricity System Operator has committed to run the power system on 100 per cent zero carbon generation by 2025 “whenever there is sufficient renewable generation on-line”.


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