Moving Beyond the Original Industrial Age, Britain Goes a Day Without Coal-Generated Electricity


Oli Scarff/Agence France-Presse

❝ Last Friday was the first full day since the height of the Industrial Revolution that Britain did not burn coal to generate electricity, a development that officials and climate change activists celebrated as a watershed moment.

The accomplishment became official just before 11 p.m., when the 24-hour period ended…

❝ For many living in the mining towns up and down the country, it was not just the backbone of the economy but a way of life. But the industry has been in decline for some time. The last deep coal mine closed in December 2015, though open cast mining has continued.

❝ Coal-fired power generation contributes heavily to climate change; burning coal produces twice as much carbon dioxide as burning natural gas. Reducing the world’s reliance on coal and increasing the use of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power have long been part of proposals to prevent the worst consequences of climate change.

Now on a path to phase out coal-fired power generation altogether by 2025, Britain, also the home of the first steam engine, is currently closing coal plants and stepping up generation from cleaner natural gas and renewables, like wind and solar.

Some countries have already left coal behind in power generation. In Switzerland, Belgium and Norway, “every day is a coal-free day,” Carlos Fernández Alvarez, a coal analyst at the International Energy Agency in Paris, pointed out.

❝ In the United States, where coal still accounts for about 30 percent of power generation, Vermont and Idaho are the only coal-free states, and California is close behind…

❝ Meanwhile, in the London Museum of Water & Steam, which has a heritage collection of coal-fired steam engines and railway engines, the operations manager, Edward Fagan, was planning for a future exhibition.

“Coal-fired power generation is very fast becoming a heritage item,” Mr. Fagan said. “One day we’ll have to add a power station to our collection.”

We can contribute wax replicas of the Koch Bros – exemplars of corporate barons trying to stop time, halt progress, save their death-filled fortunes. Oh, perhaps one of their pimps like Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell.

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