The UK just reached an impressive mark. Last week, the country of over 65 million people went 55 consecutive hours without using any power generated from coal. The push started at 10:25 pm on Monday, April 16 and lasted until 5:10 am on Thursday, April 19. Bloomberg tracked the data and made the claim, which as reported by The Independent stood as the first time since 1882 that the country used no coal power at all for that length of time.
The primary source of power during the two-plus day stretch was wind turbines. Solar power pitched in, along with nuclear, biomass, and hydropower. While 55 hours may not seem like much of an accomplishment in itself, the mark is impressive because it stands as a mark of success in an increasing push around the world to power humanity with fossil-fuel-free technology.
Coal is still widely used throughout the world, and we’re years away from reaching many of the major shifts in energy outlined in the Paris Climate Accord of 2015. But positive thinking isn’t too far-fetched when one looks at sweeping technological changes of the past. One example is provided by former US Vice President Al Gore, founder of environmental non-profit The Climate Reality Project, who compared the rise of renewable energy to that of cell phones. In 1980, Gore noted in his presentation The Climate Crisis and Its Solutions, AT&T commissioned a study to predict how many people would own a cell phone by the year 2000. The prediction? 900,000 cell phone users by 2000. There were in fact 109 million cell phone users by that time, driven by a combination of consistently improving technology and dropping prices. Today, there are over 8 billion cell phone connections globally. According to Gore’s research, the growth of renewable energy is on track to see similar results, with increased awareness, investment, and technology driving down prices worldwide.
Global change happens in small steps. Here’s to the UK for taking a big one.