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EGEB: The UK has its very first coal-free month ever in May

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • The UK has run without coal-fired power for 55 consecutive days and counting.
  • Wind and solar’s dropping costs mark an energy transition turning point, says IRENA.
  • Green-friendly Virginia will hold its Green New Deal Virginia Coalition Summit virtually.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Coal-free UK power

As of April 28, as Electrek reported, the UK had not used coal-fired plants for 18 days and 13 hours, according to National Grid data. That was the longest uninterrupted period of not using coal-fired power generation since 1882, during the Industrial Revolution.

That record has been broken in a big way, as the National Grid reports that the country’s electricity system continued without coal-fired electricity for the entire month of May. It’s now run without coal-fired power for about 55 consecutive days. Wind and solar power supplied around 28% of the UK’s electricity last month.

Since April, the carbon intensity of the electricity grid has fallen to the lowest average carbon intensity on record, at 143 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour.

This all happened because of the coronavirus lockdown, an extremely sunny spell, and two bank holiday weekends.

Renewables are cost-effective — IRENA

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released a report yesterday that asserted that falling costs of renewables make them a cost-effective investment.

IRENA states:

Renewable power generation technologies are not just competing head-to-head with fossil fuel options without financial support, but increasingly undercutting them, in many cases by a substantial margin. The mature renewable power generation technologies such as hydropower, bioenergy, and geothermal are ongoingly competitive.

According to Reuters, more than half of the renewable capacity added in 2019 achieved lower power costs than the cheapest new coal plants, the report found.

Further, IRENA said that building new solar farms and onshore wind power now costs less than running many existing coal plants.

Virginia’s virtual summit

In March, Virginia passed landmark legislation that requires 30% or more of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 and sets a target of 100% net zero by 2050.

And the state is working to keep its renewable transition momentum going despite the pandemic: It’s pressing ahead with its Green New Deal Virginia Coalition Summit virtually. The upside? Anyone can attend.

The virtual summit will address the fundamental interconnections between social, economic, and environmental justice. The summit page states:

This is a powerful opportunity to focus on the importance of connecting climate advocacy, to social justice, when considering any possibility of adequately addressing the climate crisis.

Racism, the economy, and the environment are interrelated.

The summit will take place this evening, June 3, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. To attend, click here.

Photo: GreenMatch

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.