Britain Saying Goodbye To Coal, Sunlight & Wind Climb From 3% To 37% In One Decade
Good bye, coal. Hello to natural sunlight being our dominant form of energy again.
In many ways, the 20 century was about coal, but the 21st century is not. The collapse, the demise, of coal is undeniable. Britain recently measured a milestone toward that end. The country has gone two full months without burning coal. No need to generate power with coal, and they have shown this is possible.
BBC has some highlights of the collapse, visually capturing the detonation to retire a fossil fuel plant that has “seen its day.” The damage that “day” has done makes the closure a charm, and a sigh of relief — leaving the past behind.
Tonight we will have gone two months without generating our energy from burning coal. The most significant shift in energy generation of recent times. #coalfree shows us that with the right strategy & investment in new technologies we CAN achieve #netzero https://t.co/8IPA0idM7S
Susan Kucera presents the center point of change in her documentary Living in the Future’s Past while filming Jeff Bridges, who highlights the odd use of fossil sunlight: “We’re mining this ancient sunlight from mining a very brief period of human history.” When we mind fossil fuels, we do so to get energy out of them that essentially came from the sunlight of another time period. Why not just use today’s sunlight?
Dr. Nathan Hagens, Director of the Institute for the Study of Energy and Our Future, explains how we are now:
“A chemical composition of 50% of the protein in our bodies. 80% nitrogen in our bodies indirectly comes from the chemical signature of this fossil sunlight that we are mining. So we are different than our ancestors. They were made of sunlight, we are made of fossil fuels.”
He creates the term “fossil slaves,” noting that “fossils slaves poop and breathe, and their breath is causing our biosphere to warm up and our oceans to acidify.”
Good bye, coal. Hello to the possibility of sunlight becoming our prime direct energy source again.
A decade ago, about 40% of the Britain’s electricity came from coal. Now, it has gone absent for two months. BBC notes that the coronavirus crisis helped the National Grid to respond to our changing times by taking power plants off the network.
“The four remaining coal-fired plants were among the first to be shut down. The last coal generator came off the system at midnight on 9 April. No coal has been burnt for electricity since.”
Indeed, this last decade has changed our energy habits. Now the crisis can accelerate the transition, the transformation can grow more forcefully to leave the damages from our old energy system in the past.
BBC highlights two examples illustrate just how much the UK’s energy networks have changed. “A decade ago just 3% of the country’s electricity came from wind and solar, which many people saw as a costly distraction.” Now they supply 37% or so. Nuclear accounted for 18% in 2019.
The world is entering a golden era for floating wind. And the UK has the biggest offshore wind industry in the world. And more, there is also the largest single wind farm, off the coast of Yorkshire. There’s still a lot of room for improvement.
But what’s been keeping our lights on?
Ten years ago, just 3% of the country’s electricity came from wind and solar
“With gas also in decline, there’s a real chance that renewables will overtake fossil fuels in 2020 as a whole.
“The decline in the role of fossil fuels in general and coal in particular looks set to continue. The remaining three coal plants in the UK will be shut down within five years. Then the fuel that sparked the industrial revolution here in Britain almost two centuries ago will be a thing of the past.”
Top/featured photo by Zach Shahan
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