According to data from the U.K. government, coal-fired power plants only supplied 2% of electricity in the United Kingdom during the first six months of 2017. This is a stark contrast to just five years ago, where coal supplied about 40% of the U.K.’s electricity needs each year. At the same time, renewables have quickly ramped up and now supply a quarter of electricity in the country.

As previously discussed here on Plugged In, Scotland has already gone "coal-free" after more than a century, shuttering its last coal-fired power plant in the spring of 2016. This closure was a significant step toward Scotland’s goal of supplying 100% of its electricity demand using renewables by 2020.

While coal power is still operating elsewhere in the United Kingdom it is supplying so little power at times that in National Grid announced on April 21, 2017, that the United Kingdom had gone without electricity from this fossil fuel for the first time since 1882. It was in this year that Thomas Edison opened the country’s first coal-fired power plant at Holborn in London.

Even starker numbers appear when looking at coal-mining in the United Kingdom where just 10 active coal mines are in operation, down from more than 1,000 in the 1960s. Once a “bedrock of the economy”, coal has quickly declined in the U.K. as the country moves to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and tackle its air pollution challenges.


**The original version of this article incorrectly stated that, on 21 April 2017, the UK "had gone without electricity from fossil fuels" instead of "this fossil fuel".