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A Coal Free Future

Jomiro Eming

Back in April, one of Britain’s longest-running coal-plants – that had been burning fuel for the national grid since the industrial revolution – went offline for an entire day; the National Grid Control Room confirmed that, despite not burning any coal, national demands were still met.

Despite having stuttered instances of shorter “coal-free” periods in 2016, Britain more recently made waves for fuel production by announcing that, by 2025, Britain’s last coal-plant will close permanently. Furthermore, Britain announced in July that they aim to ban all fossil fuel-powered cars by 2040. These policy-change initiatives are in the vein of improving national air quality and finding ways for renewable and sustainable energy sources.

The Drax Power Station in Britain is a giant: 12 castle-like towers billow clouds of smoke into the atmosphere every day, just as they have done over Britain’s 250-year-long relationship with coal. Now, however, the country that brought the world the first coal-fired plants are cutting ties with this antiquated practice. Within the next decade, this plant will shut down along with every other coal-plant still standing in the country. After 2025, Drax will only burn biomass.

Already having reduced its reliance on coal over the past few decades, Britain has had a sharp increase in air-quality. The amount of coal burnt in Britain dropped 50% between 2010 and 2016, and the increase in carbon tax has made coal a far less desirable grid supplier.

Many countries have followed the trend of reducing coal consumption, but University College London energy analyst, Michael Grubb, says that it is breathtaking to see coal wither-away in its origin country. That alone shows the power of reform in a revolution initiated by a global power.

The same positives are evident in Britain’s announcement of banning fossil-fuel powered cars. If the UK forbids sales of any car that is not electric, car manufacturers need to decide between adapting to the changing environment and losing one of their biggest consumer markets. Britain’s decision will dictate the future of car markets globally.

Despite these positives, there is still a lot of policy change that needs to materialise. It is all fair-and-well that these changes are taking place in the world, but structural reform needs to occur on a global scale for these changes to concretise. Until that happens, the risk of regression will remain on the table.

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