Britain sees greenest year for electricity in 2020 – National Grid

People walk at Oxford Street, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in London, Britain December 23, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Britain’s electricity system saw the greenest year on record in 2020, National Grid said on Monday, with record renewable power and its longest spell without coal since the industrial revolution.

Britain has a target to reach net zero emissions by 2050 which will require a huge increase in the amount of renewable power.

"Significant periods of coal-free electricity generation and record-breaking levels of power from zero carbon sources were key factors… while record low electricity demand during the nation’s lockdown also contributed,” National Grid’s ESO (Electricity System Operator) said.

Measures on homes and business to contain the novel coronavirus curbed electricity demand last year

The country was powered coal-free for over 5,147 hours in 2020, compared with 3,666 hours in 2019, National Grid ESO said.

In total coal provided 1.6% of Britain’s electricity in 2020, compared with around 25% five years ago.

Britain plans to close coal plants by 2024 as part of efforts to reach its net zero emissions goal by 2050.

The record for the highest level of wind power generation was broken several times in 2020, with wind contributing a record 60% of Britain’s electricity on August 26.

Solar power also saw a new record, proving a third of the country's electricity on several days during May, National Grid ESO said.

Reporting By Susanna Twidale Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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