The UK power grid has passed another major clean energy milestone, completing a second month in a row without the use of coal power.
This milestone extends the longest period that the country has operated without a coal-fired power plant since the Industrial Revolution. It is already more than 60 days.
British environmental news website BusinessGreen reports that the record run has been delivered in part thanks to the coronavirus lockdown, which led to lower-than-expected energy demand during the spring.
However, the latest record without coal is based on a trend that has seen the grid run for long periods with little or no coal power in recent years, as renewable energy and storage capacity have increased and power plants coal have been shut down.
Jess Ralston, an analyst with the think tank of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said that the latest record-breaking carbonless race highlighted "the fact that fuel is simply not necessary in a modern energy system."
"At the same time, the rise of renewable generation and extensive plans to expand the nation's fleet of cheap and clean energy sources show that there will only be one direction from here," he added.
"Recent testing of an increasingly flexible power system during sunny holidays at closure, all of which has been handled smoothly, shows that the grid is ready to move faster than many believed possible," he explained. .
"The question now is whether policymakers are keeping pace with this to encourage more investment in clean energy sources," Ralston said.
BusinessGreen reports that the latest coal-free operation could continue for some time, and throughout the year, coal is expected to provide only a fraction of the grid's power, following the closure of two other coal-fired power plants this year.
With strong performance from wind and solar power, new data fromCarbon Brief suggest that renewable energy has provided more power to the grid to date than fossil fuels this year.
Renewables are believed to be responsible for 37 percent of the electricity supplied to the grid compared to 35 percent for coal and gas. Nuclear power accounted for about 18 percent and imports for about 10 percent, according to the website.
"So far this year, renewable energy has generated more electricity than fossil fuels and that has never happened before," Carbon Brief's Dr Simon Evans told the BBC.
"With gas also in decline, there is a real chance that renewable energy will overtake fossil fuels in 2020 as a whole."
The dominance of renewables and the decline in coal underscores a remarkable transformation in the UK power grid in recent years.
Attention is now being focused on how to further increase the UK's clean energy capacity and begin reducing gas energy use in pursuit of the country's goal of becoming a net zero emission economy by 2050.
Calls are growing for the Conservative government to hold more clean energy auctions as part of its impending green recovery package, in order to accelerate the deployment of low-cost renewable energy projects.