Power Shift
The UK’s Day Without Coal

For the first time since the 1800’s, the UK has gone an entire day without burning coal to produce electricity. The FT reports:

Coal disappeared from the power system at certain times of the day last year. But its absence for an entire working day underlines a crash in the use of a fuel that accounted for 23 per cent of UK electricity generation as recently as two years ago, but by last year slid to just 9 per cent. […]

Grid officials said low demand for electricity in the week after the Easter holiday and a large amount of wind and nuclear power had helped to create the zero-coal day.

By Friday afternoon, gas power plants were supplying 47 per cent of the country’s electricity while nuclear plants and wind farms each provided 18 per cent.

Here in the United States, coal’s share of the national energy mix has steadily declined over the past few years as natural gas utilization has risen, a shift driven not by green policymaking, but by the market—fracking has produced a glut of shale gas that has made natural gas cheaper than coal.

But coal isn’t only struggling in the U.S., as the UK’s new milestone illustrates. Around the world, from Beijing to New Delhi to London, countries are working harder to find alternatives. As a result, global coal demand has slowed lately (and in the process has made life even harder for American coal firms).

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