Britain has been powered for more than a thousand hours without coal this year, in a new milestone underscoring how the polluting fuel’s decline is accelerating. The UK’s last eight coal power plants staged a brief revival when the “beast from the east” pushed up gas prices earlier this year, causing coal plants to fire up. However, the blip proved short-lived and immaterial, figures compiled by MyGridGB show. The country passed the threshold of 1,000 coal-free hours in the early hours of Friday. The pace of coal power’s demise is speeding up. Throughout the whole of 2017 there were 624 coal-free hours, up from 210 hours in 2016.

Andrew Crossland, an energy expert who runs the MyGridGB site, said: “In 2018, Britain saved its coal use for when it needed it most – during the March cold snap. “Over the rest of the year Britain’s renewable sector has provided record amounts of electricity, with more than 7.4% coming from solar over the past four weeks. The fall of coal power has been swift. In 2012 it supplied two fifths of electricity – this year so far it has provided less than 6%. The decline will deepen in the second half of this year, with the planned closure in September of a Yorkshire coal plant and one in Northern Ireland. After Eggborough and Kilroot cease generating there will be six coal plants left. For the first time since the industrial revolution, the UK went a day without coal last year, followed this year by three days in a row.

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