The UK has gone 2 months without burning coal, the longest period since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution

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The Shotton open-cast coal mine in Northumberland, England, seen on November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Barbara Lewis
  • Britain has completed two months without burning coal to generate electricity.
  • Coal has not been burned since April 10, the National Grid said on Wednesday, the longest hiatus since 1790.
  • As a result, May ended up being the greenest-ever month for energy provision in Britain, it said.
  • Demand for energy substantially decreased during the coronavirus pandemic as travel and business were disrupted.
  • The UK’s demand for coal has also decreased in recent years.
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For the first time in 230 years, Britain has completed two months without burning coal to generate electricity.

The last time coal was burned at any of Britain’s four coal-fired power stations was April 10, 2020, according to the National Grid, the utility company.

It marks the longest period without deriving energy from the fossil fuel since 1790, the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Drax Electric Insights coal uk
A graph showing how much coal Britain burned from April 5, 2020, to June 11, 2020. It flatlines form April 10. Drax Electric Insights

“The exact two-month mark is midnight tonight (00:00 on Wednesday 10 June), which will mark 61 days (or 1,464 hours) since the last coal generator came off the system,” a spokesperson for the National Grid’s Electricity System Operator said in an emailed press release on Wednesday.

Britain recorded the first full coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution on April 14, 2017, and the number of days without coal-power recorded each year has steadily increased.

The impact of the coronavirus outbreak on travel and business means the demand for energy has dropped substantially, both in Britain and around the globe.

The International Energy Agency said in April that energy demand could plunge at a record level this year.

Demonstrators from Extinction Rebellion display a banner as a site security member looks on during a protest at Banks Group's open-cast coal mine in Bradley, County Durham, Britain February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Extinction Rebellion protesters seen at an open-cast coal mine in Bradley, England, on February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Scott Heppell

The drop in demand has allowed Britain to supply people with electricity sourced from gas from the North Sea and solar power.

Even before the pandemic, demand for coal was decreasing year by year, as environmental movements against fossil fuels gained political traction and increased relevance for consumers.

The UK government has pledged to close all coal-powered energy generation sites by 2024.