Fuelling change: The UK just had its first day without coal since the Industrial Revolution

 
Rebecca Smith
The likes of solar and wind are increasingly being used as we phase out coal
The likes of solar and wind are increasingly being used as we phase out coal (Source: Getty)

Britain has officially done it: spent 24 hours without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since the Industrial Revolution.

Energy provider National Grid said the the 24-hour mark was tipped at 10.50pm last night.

As for what we've been using to power up the nation instead, National Grid said the average generation mix included 50.3 per cent gas, 21.2 per cent nuclear and 12.2 per cent wind.

Here's how it happened
Here's how it happened (Source: National Grid)

The milestone meant the UK's first 24-hour coal-free period since the use of fossil fuel began.

The previous record had been 19 hours, achieved last May and again on Thursday, according to a National Grid spokesperson.

The energy provider expects more coal-free days to come as other options are sought over the fuel.

The government plans to phase out the UK's last eight plants by 2025 in an effort to clamp down on carbon emissions.

Fuelling a step change

The amount of coal the UK uses has been falling steadily since last year, and coal power generation dropped to a record low in the second quarter of last year.

Official figures published in September said coal made up just 5.8 per cent of the UK's power mix between April and June last year, down 20 per cent on the year before.

Meanwhile, the amount of power generated by gas has been steadily rising - during the same period, it produced 45.2 per cent of the UK's energy.

The amount of electricity generated by renewables fell though, dropping from 25.4 per cent in the second quarter of 2015 to 24.9 per cent in 2016. The reason? Mostly due to pesky bad weather.

Greenpeace's head of energy Hannah Martin called the 24-hour period "a watershed in the energy transition", as a decade ago, a day without coal would have been "unimaginable".

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