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Britain close to being coal power-free over summer, says report by Drax

A report commissioned by the energy firm Drax has found that Britain could soon go coal power-free during the summer months while consumption of fossil fuel power continues at staggering levels in the East

Britain is close to ditching coal power during the summer, according to a study released by Yorkshire energy firm Drax.

During the second quarter of this year, coal accounted for just 1.3% of UK electricity consumption and power stations using the fossil fuel ran at only 3% of their maximum combined capacity between April and June.

This amounts of a four-fifths fall in the consumption of coal in Britain in the space of just five years.

Coal power usage has fallen so low in Britain that it was not used for 12 days in June, and contributed the second smallest portion to the country’s electricity supply – putting it just above hydro power, according to the report by Imperial College London on behalf of Drax.

“Apart from two cold spells in April, coal rarely went above one gigawatt (GW) – just half the peak output of one of Britain’s remaining coal-fired power stations,” it said.

Across the rest of Europe, coal power usage has fallen from 39% to 22% over the past thirty years, but it is still a popular power source in Eastern Europe.

The UK government has made manoeuvres against coal power, partly by joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance last year.

Earlier this year, it also revealed plans to close the country’s eight remaining coal power stations by 2025.

Drax has made moves to lower coal power consumption itself, by converting coal units at its power plant in Selby, North Yorkshire, into gas generation and battery storage units.

 

Coal power in Asia offsets plunge in rest of the World

Chinese Pollution plan
Coal power consumption in China accounts for 67% of all power usage, a 14% fall from 2007.

The marked decrease in British coal consumption has been offset by increasing coal usage in the East.

The Drax report read: “So much for powering past coal. Thirty years ago, coal provided 38% of the world’s electricity. Today, it still provides 38%.

“This lack of movement on the global scale masks very different national trajectories.

“Progress in Europe and America is being counteracted by the rise of coal across Asia.”

China and India are the leading coal consumers in the fossil fuel-reliant region.

Chinese coal power reached a peak in 2007, making up 81% of the country’s total power usage, but has now fallen to 67% as a result of government action against climate change.

Last month, the Chinese State Council revealed a pollution plan that would prevent it from expanding on existing coal power and production facilities.

India has stoked its coal usage from around 66% of total consumption in the 1990s and 2000s to 76% over the last ten years.

Its increasing use of coal power is not uncommon. Only seven countries have lowered coal power consumption over the last 30 years, including Germany, Poland, Spain, Ukraine, the US, UK and Canada.

 

US coal power falls despite Trump backing

The Drax report found that coal usage has steadily fallen in the US over the past 30 years to 31% of the country’s energy consumption.

US President Donald Trump is a big backer of the fossil fuel, even going so far as to order his energy secretary to prevent closures of loss-making coal power stations this June.

According to a leaked memo seen by Bloomberg News around the time of the announcement, the US Department of Energy could order power grid firms to buy power from those same coal plants.