English miners drilled hard coal, 1924. Photo: PA
Friday August 21, 2017 was a historic day for the UK power industry. For the first time since the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, this industrial country got rid of coal as a source of electricity. If you are familiar with the history of Great Britain, you can understand the epoch-making nature of this event. Coal here mined before the invasion of the Romans, that is, in the Bronze Age – this is indicated by axes found in coal deposits. True, in ancient times coal was needed for other purposes – for roasting (obtaining bricks, iron), and not for generating electricity. For industrial purposes, coal will be used in the future, but not for power generation.
From coal to the grid, they were only released for a short period of 25 hours, but this is only the beginning. The trend is that the UK reduces the share of coal in the national energy system. According to the National Grid, the first day without coal as a source of electricity – for the first time in a century and a half – is a “turning point”.
“Get the first working day without coal from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution Is a watershed moment in how our energy system is changing, “said Cordi O’Hara of the National Grid. – Great Britain benefits from a wide variety of plastic sources of electricity. This combination of energy continues to change as the National Grid adapts the operation of the system to carry out these changes. But it is important to remember that coal remains an important source of energy as long as we move to a system with a low carbon content. ”
On the day of April 21, 2017, instead of coal, Britain received electricity from the following sources:
- natural gas: 50.3%
- atomic energy: 21.2%
- wind: 12.2%
- biomass: 6.7%
- solar energy: 3.6%
- imports: 8.3% (probably mainly atomic energy at 2 GW channel from France)
- exports: -2.3%
As you can see, the main coal substitutes in the national energy system are natural gas and nuclear energy. The share of renewable sources is much smaller, but it is gradually growing.
Until Friday, the national energy system several times managed to hold out without coal for long periods of time. The record before that was 19 hours for the weekend in May 2016. Well, now managed to hold out for about 25 hours. It’s nice that in this period we got a full day on April 21.
Detailed statistics on UK energy consumption can be viewed in the service of BMRS. It can be seen that the last kilowatt from coal-fired power plants was received on April 20 in the interval from 22:30 to 23:00 (137 MW), and the next – only on April 22 in the interval from 00:00 to 00:30 (19 MW). By the way, today on Sunday, April 23, the United Kingdom, too, is still without coal from 8:00 am (time period 16) to the present day, that is, until 14:00 local time (16:00 MSK)
On April 21, 2017, Great Britain held out without coal for the first time since the first connection to the central power system of the Holborn Viaduct (Edison Electric Light Station) in 1882, built by Thomas Edison Edison Electric Light Company . The station began work on January 12, 1882, three years after the invention of an electric incandescent lamp. Steam from the boilers supported the work of the 27-tonne turbine. The generator’s power was 125 horsepower (93 kW). At first, the generator gave energy to 968 street lamps with incandescent lamps, and later 3000 lamps were connected to it.
Thomas Edison, the world’s second largest coal-fired power plant, opened in September 1882 in New York.
It is interesting that the historic station Holborn Viaduct was closed due to losses in just four years – in 1886, and the street lights were transferred back to kerosene. But in the years that followed, many other coal-fired power plants and CHP plants were opened for heating houses. It got to the point that in 1956 the Clean Air Act was passed in the UK. To combat intolerable smog, coal power stations were banned from being placed in the city.
Since the 1970s, coal for CHP began to rapidly replace natural gas, which has abundant reserves in the North Sea, and in the 1980s the share of nuclear power Energy industry has grown to 25%. Since then, the share of nuclear power plants remains approximately at the same level, and coal continued to be replaced by natural gas and other sources.
The Ferrybridge coal-fired power plant in West Yorkshire was closed in 2016 after 50 years of operation
Five years ago it was hard to imagine. In 2012, 17 coal stations with a maximum capacity of 23 GW worked in the UK, which roughly corresponds to half the peak electricity consumption in the UK. Several of them were closed in 2013 according to the EU regulations on reducing the amount of acid rain, and a few more became unprofitable and closed after they were obliged to buy emission quotas CO 2 at the price of £ 18 per tonne .
Now there are 8 coal stations with 14 GW, which is very difficult to compete with stations on natural gas, where there is not such a heavy burden of quotas on CO emissions 2 . Even harder to compete with renewable electricity, which is subsidized by the government.
In 2016, the British government set the task of closing the last coal-fired power plant by 2025.
The last deep coal mine in the UK closed on December 18, Extraction continues in 26 open sections.