Europe

Britain to mark first coal-free day 'since Industrial Revolution'

Britain is set to go coal-free for the whole of Friday, generating all its electricity without using even one lump of the most polluting of all the fossil fuels.

If successful, it will be the first continuous 24-hour coal-free period for Britain since use of the fossil fuel began.

The National Grid control room tweeted: "It looks likely today will be the first working day in Britain without coal power since the industrial revolution!"

As gas and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power have become more popular, the use of coal has decreased, accounting for just 9% of the electricity generated last year.

Many coal plants have now closed or switched to burning organic matter such as wood pellets.

The Government has pledged to phase out coal from the system by 2025 as part of efforts to cut carbon emissions in the UK.

The National Grid previously achieved a 19-hour coal-free stretch one weekend last May.

Hannah Martin, from Greenpeace UK, called the potential new record "a watershed in the energy transition and said such and achievement would have been "unimaginable" a decade ago.

She said: "It is a clear message to any new government that they should prioritise making the UK a world leader in clean, green technology.

"They will need to get on with the coal phase-out plan and recognise the economic potential of renewable energy and energy efficiency."

Industry body RenewableUK's executive director Emma Pinchbeck said: "The change in how we produce energy is the industrial revolution of this generation: as the age of coal passes, the renewables boom is well under way.

"Coal has been part of the UK's past, but we should celebrate the move away from dirty and old fashioned technology to a modern, clean energy future."