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GB smashes coal-free record on solar-filled Easter weekend

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

Great Britain has smashed its record of continuous coal-free electricity generation, going more than 90 hours without coal over the Easter weekend.

The period lasted from Thursday night until Monday evening, and comes almost exactly a year after the last coal-free record of 76 hours was set.

Figures from Drax Electricity Insights shows that coal came off the system around 10:30pm on Thursday 18 April and re-entered at about 5:30pm on Monday 22 April 2019, falling just short of registering four consecutive days without the need for any coal-fired generation.

The record-setting period coincided with a bank holiday weekend boasting extensive sunshine and high temperatures, which sent much of Britain’s population outside and overall energy demand falling as a result.

Total demand rarely peaked above 30GW over the course of the weekend and dipped as low as 21.1GW on Monday morning, not far off National Grid’s expected minimum demand, as detailed in this year’s Summer Outlook, of 17.9GW.

Image: Drax Electricity Insights.
Image: Drax Electricity Insights.

Solar output also came within touching distance of its own peak generation record on Sunday afternoon as the skies cleared. Figures compiled by Sheffield Solar’s PV_Live tool placed solar generation at 9.11GW at 12:30pm, just shy of the all-time peak generation record of 9.3GW set in May last year.

Image: Sheffield Solar.
Image: Sheffield Solar.

Meanwhile another independent UK energy tracking service, MyGridGB, has recorded how the number of coal-free hours in Great Britain continues to rocket year-on-year. According to MyGridGB’s figures, the country has already recorded a total of 828 hours without coal this year, putting it well on track to smash last year’s record of 1,856 hours.

The below chart shows coal generation tracking significantly below last year’s figures, as the country’s coal capacity continues to dwindle and generation hours tumble as plants are rendered uneconomical.

Image: MyGridGB.
Image: MyGridGB.

This year has already seen two of the country’s coal-firing plants announce full or partial shut downs, namely EDF’s 2GW Cottam plant and SSE’s Fiddler’s Ferry facility, with the UK set to effectively shutter all coal-firing generation by 2025.

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