Energy Transition

The UK is on a record-breaking run of coal-free power

An engineer stands on top of a coal seam at UK Coal's Cutacre surface mine near Bolton, northern England April 16, 2008. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Walking away from coal. Image: REUTERS/Phil Noble

Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Energy Transition?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how United Kingdom is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

United Kingdom

The UK is close to powering itself without coal for two straight weeks.

That’s remarkable when you consider it’s just two years since the UK National Grid’s first coal-free 24 hours. It follows a government announcement last year that it plans to shut the country’s remaining coal-fired power stations by the middle of the next decade.

The following chart, created by the Guardian using data from Gridwatch, shows the changing nature of power generation in the UK – and the record-breaking run.

Image: The Guardian

Coal loses its crown

Coal has seen a rapid decline in the UK. As recently as 2012, it produced 40% of the country’s electricity, figures from Carbon Brief show. By last year this was down to just 5%.

Image: Carbon Brief

The rise of renewable and low-carbon sources have driven this change, with wind in particular increasing at a rate of knots.

The largest single source, however, remains a fossil fuel. Gas accounted for some 40% last year.

Have you read?

Still work to be done

The UK still has a way to go to catch up with some of its European neighbours, though.

Eurostat data from 2017 (the latest available year) shows that in terms of final energy consumption, the share of renewable sources was highest in Sweden, followed by Finland and Latvia.

Image: Eurostat

Those countries, and eight others, had reached their 2020 target by 2017. By contrast, the UK was one of the countries furthest away from this target.

Overall, the share of energy from renewable sources has more than doubled in the EU since 2004.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Low-emissivity glass is revolutionizing building efficiency. Here's how

Görkem Elverici

June 7, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum