If you're like me and check Drax on a near daily basis, you'll have noticed that this summer has seen record numbers of 'zero-coal hour' power production.
Back in 2015 (and every other year beforehand), the UK had to rely on the burning of coal to constantly provide power to our electricity grid; this is still the norm. However, in 2016 the UK grid began to notice renewables taking up a sizeable chunk of the generated power - albeit a rather small chunk. This led to the realisation that for the first time we could turn off our coal fired power plants and keep the grid frequency stable, all with the knowledge that the grid would remain steadied with the input of renewables.
Each year since then, the UK grid has recorded the amount of coal free hours the network has been able to cope with, with each year majorly surpassing the last. This began in 2016 with 200 coal free hours recorded which was quickly exceeded in 2017 where we saw 613 hours of coal free power production (around 25 days in total). This year however has seen the biggest decrease in coal powered production totalling 883 hours amounting to more than the previous 2 years combined AND we're only in August. Another significant finding from this years data is that in the month of June, coal accounted for less than 1% of the country’s electricity and the grid recorded a 12 day period of zero coal hours in a row! With some windy autumn months ahead and hopefully some more late summer sunshine it is entirely possible to rack up a few more coal free days.
Coal accounted for less than 1% of the country’s electricity in June. Will the rest of the world follow its lead?