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Progress on eliminating coal

Summary

Assessment of Coal in GB

Although the use of coal has declined rapidly in recent years, it is now levelling off.

There is no evidence that its use will stop by 2024.

One of the most significant factors in reducing emissions has been the reduction in the burning of coal. The continuation of this reduction - with total elimination by 2024 - is one of the main commitments in the National Grid's figuress.

As you can see from the chart, the National Grid forecasts much lower generation from coal than is actually recorded.

So far in 2021 the use of coal to generate electricity in GB has vastly exceeded the National Grid's forecast for the year.

  • The 2021 National Grid ESO Five Year Forecast for coal showed mo generation of electricity in the whole of 2021.
  • By the middle of 2021 coal had been used to generate over 2.7TWh of electricity.
  • Which fuel did the National Grid expect to take on coal's role in compensating for the intermittency of wind?.

Coal is still being burnt regularly and at a significant rate.

  • By mid 2021 coal had been used to generate electricity on almost 70% of days.
  • Coal often generates more electricity than onshore and offshore wind combined. This happened on 29 days in the first half of 2021.
  • Coal is often being burnt when GB is also exporting electricity to others.
  • Is coal being burnt for export for commercial reasons or to satisfy agreements related to the use of interconnectors?

Coal is the fossil fuel used in GB for electricity generation that produces the most greenhouse gases.

  • When 2,000 GWh of energy had been produced by burning coal by early March 2021 the resulting emissions generated so far in 2021 would have been around 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (using the median value from the IPCC.)
  • When will GB actually be able to stop using coal to generate electricity so that we can keep to our targets related to net zero?

For more information about coal, see our Coal page.

Last updated July 2021

Coal Actual Generation Coal Actual Generation Coal Actual Generation Coal Five Year Forecast 2021 Coal Five Year Forecast 2021 Coal Five Year Forecast 2021 Coal Five Year Forecast 2020 Coal Five Year Forecast 2020 Coal Five Year Forecast 2020 Coal Five Year Forecast 2020 Coal Five Year Forecast 2020 Coal Five Year Forecast 2020 Coal Five Year Forecast 2020 Coal Five Year Forecast 2019 Coal Five Year Forecast 2019 Coal Five Year Forecast 2019 Coal Five Year Forecast 2019 Coal Five Year Forecast 2019 Coal Five Year Forecast 2019

(Graph based on National Grid data.)