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Guardian Lauds Coal Free Week- But Forgets To Mention Gas Supplied 49%!

May 11, 2019

By Paul Homewood



I was not going to comment on this as it is such transparent twaddle. But it appears to have now gone across the Atlantic to CNN and others.

This is from the Guardian:


ScreenHunter_4210 May. 11 13.13

Britain has gone a week without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since Queen Victoria was on the throne, in a landmark moment in the transition away from the heavily polluting fuel.

The last coal generator came off the system at 1.24pm on 1 May, meaning the UK reached a week without coal at 1.24pm on Wednesday, according to the National Grid Electricity System Operator, which runs the network in England, Scotland and Wales.

Coal-fired power stations still play a major part in the UK’s energy system as a backup during high demand but the increasing use of renewable energy sources such as wind power means it is required less. High international coal prices have also made the fuel a less attractive source of energy.

The latest achievement – the first coal-free week since 1882, when a plant opened at Holborn in London – comes only two years after Britain’s first coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution.

Burning coal to generate electricity is thought to be incompatible with avoiding catastrophic climate change, and the UK government has committed to phasing out coal-fired power by 2025.

Fintan Slye, the director of National Grid ESO, said he believed Britain’s electricity system could be run with zero carbon as soon as 2025.

He said: “Zero-carbon operation of the electricity system by 2025 means a fundamental change to how our system was designed to operate – integrating newer technologies right across the system – from large-scale offshore wind to domestic-scale solar panels to increased demand-side participation, using new smart digital systems to manage and control the system in real-time.”

Greg Clark, the business secretary, hailed the achievement. He said the UK is “on a path to become the first major economy to legislate for net-zero emissions” in the wake of the report.


The idea that a week without coal power represents some sort of transition is ridiculous. Below is the actual power mix for that week:




Far from renewables leading the way, it was good old fashioned gas which contributed 49% of our power.

Burning trees instead of coal added a further 6%, whilst nuclear provided 22%.

Wind power supplied a paltry 10%.

Go back to 2000, and the Q2 stats looked little different:


Nuclear is virtually unchanged from then, while burning things has fallen marginally from 72% to 55%.

Whilst wind power is now contributing 10% to the mix, the decline of coal is making us much more reliant on imports, which have doubled to 10%. I certainly don’t regard that as a “success”.

There is nothing in these figures to substantiate Fintan Slye’s claim that Britain’s electricity system could be run with zero carbon as soon as 2025.

For the guy in charge of our electricity supply to making such dangerous and nonsensical claims, simply to satisfy his political masters, suggests he is totally unfit for his job.

  1. JimW permalink
    May 11, 2019 3:02 pm

    He made this claim earlier this year
    Within the article is this statement
    ‘National Grid ESO is to spend the next six years identifying the right mix of systems, services and products necessary, bringing forward the design of new competitive marketplaces that will play a role in reducing the cost of system operation. ‘
    I assume this means that ‘customers of all types’ will have the privilige of competing with each other on price to keep their heating, lighting, cooking, refrigeration and cars powered.
    The rich will always be able to pay, and the very poorest will always have it paid for them. Its just all the mugs in the middle who as usual will scrap for crumbs.
    Its at times like this I am glad I am no longer living in the UK.

  2. markl permalink
    May 11, 2019 3:28 pm

    I wonder what generated the “import” electricity? This is nothing more than another virtue signaling attempt to appear “carbon free”.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      May 11, 2019 4:29 pm

      A fair amount will have come from the French interconnector so you could argue that at least half the import would be carbon-free.

      If Slye genuinely wants carbon-free generation by 2025 then he has five years to get a few nuclear stations off the ground. I’m not sure on which planet that is feasible but not this one.

      I am getting rather tired of listening to lies from eco-activists and their a*se-licking hangers-on about what is possible in electricity supply and what isn’t. When this drivel continues to pour from people who either know better (in which case they shouldn’t be in the positions they are) or perhaps don’t know better (in which case they shouldn’t be in …) I keep hearing an updated version of the Richard Nixon joke:
      How can you tell when a National Grid Director is lying? His lips are moving.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      May 14, 2019 10:45 am

      All the Dutch supply comes from the coal and biomass power stations at the mouth of Rotterdam harbour, which are directly connected to BritNed. I think the coal free claim is bogus.

  3. Athelstan. permalink
    May 11, 2019 3:39 pm


    I grow weary, very tired of constantly reiterating it.

    But burning gas to turn turbines to generate electricity is a bone headed waste of a precious resource. I remark on it, that, natural gas should be pumped directly into homes to burn to produce warmth, for cooking and to industry – why oh why is it that the nation which opened the world eye’s to the myriad benefits of fossil fueled power, why have we forgotten all history and indeed logic?

    For steady and dependable base load, most sensible countries burn coal to produce lecky, however Britain is run by the Marxists the regressives and guarantors of financial doom and their little green eco loon allies, that’s why we, the UK off shores’ our industry and manufacturing.

    Conclusion is catastrophe, the green death that’s not at all sustainable – financially speaking.

  4. Pancho Plail permalink
    May 11, 2019 4:04 pm

    These coal powered stations that are on standby presumably don’t use coal for this function. I understood that they have to be turning and burning so that they can respond to demand when required.

  5. Pancho Plail permalink
    May 11, 2019 4:06 pm

    “Burning coal to generate electricity is thought to be incompatible with avoiding catastrophic climate change” so are we safe now?

    • May 11, 2019 5:32 pm

      Biomass gives off more CO2 than coal and there’s supposed to be a ‘climate emergency’. Waiting decades for new trees to grow will be too long, so it looks like we’re all toast 😆

  6. May 11, 2019 4:21 pm
    UK power stations’ electricity output lowest since 1994.
    But this is a good thing apparently despite warnings of power shortage
    UK facing massive power shortfall when coal stations close, engineers warn
    Well the Government likes keeping people in the dark.

  7. wert permalink
    May 11, 2019 5:56 pm

    Fintan Slye didn’t quite act as dishonestly as he could. He didn’t promise anything but that ESO is ready for the impossible which will not happen.

    “Fintan Slye, the director of National Grid ESO, said he believed Britain’s electricity system could be run with zero carbon as soon as 2025.”

    Yeah, ESO has no objection…

  8. Jackington permalink
    May 11, 2019 6:04 pm

    Confirmed in today’s Business Telegraph

  9. May 11, 2019 6:35 pm

    National Grid ESO seems to be a bit of a maverick part of National Grid. Perhaps (hopefully) it’s just there to make National Grid look as if it is is onside with green government policy. Hopefully National Grid is actually run by real engineers, otherwise we’re all doomed.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      May 14, 2019 10:47 am

      National Grid has formally split in accordance with OFGEM edict into gas and electricity networks under separate management.

  10. Tony Jackson permalink
    May 11, 2019 8:13 pm

    Meanwhile, I hear China is building 300 coal fired power stations …………

  11. Harry Passfield permalink
    May 11, 2019 8:45 pm

    Well, it wasn’t a full working week to start with.

    Then again, when the Guardian tells us that wind and solar runs the country’s energy supplies 100% for a week, then we can take notice. Then again, I bet coal and gas were in standby/backup mode 100% of the time.

  12. MrGrimNasty permalink
    May 11, 2019 9:47 pm

    Looks like the cooling tower picture was taken in Greta-Vision.

    • I_am_not_a_robot permalink
      May 12, 2019 6:25 am

      Steam pollution.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        May 12, 2019 8:32 am

        No realllllyyyyyyy………

    • jack broughton permalink
      May 12, 2019 11:26 am

      Amusing to think that if you took photos of the wet cooling towers on a CCGT station they would look identical: many use much less efficient and more expensive dry towers just to avoid this appearance. what a crazy world we’re living in.

  13. Ardy permalink
    May 12, 2019 12:03 am


    • May 12, 2019 9:49 am

      It does not get counted centrally by the Grid, as it only appears at local distributed level

  14. Derek Colman permalink
    May 12, 2019 1:20 am

    I have been watching this all the time on Gridwatch, and have commented on the Independent on this report, pointing out that gas was supplying the power. One evening,when there was no solar, and wind mustered only 0.6%, still no coal was used. However gas was at 58.5% and nuclear at 21.5%, the rest being made up by biomass (Drax?) and imports. During the day, coal was still not needed because plentiful solar power helped with the higher daytime demand now that the days are getting longer. We have so much gas capacity now that coal is unlikely to be used at all except at times of high demand and low wind. maybe in winter when solar is almost useless. In short coal was not used for a week because it has been replaced by gas, not renewables.
    I comment on the Independent under the username Del-aware because my real name account was flagged out of existence by the true believers.

  15. richard verney permalink
    May 12, 2019 4:08 am

    back in the real world, Wind producing just 2% and Solar 0%.

    • richard verney permalink
      May 12, 2019 4:10 am

      Of course, Biomass (8.4%) is producing far more CO2 than coal because of its lower calorifi value. Why biomass is given a free pass beggars belief.

  16. Shiveringonwinter permalink
    May 12, 2019 6:57 am

    And I thought I heard Katty Kay reclassify natural gas with the renewables on the show “Beyond 100 Days” about a week ago. No one corrected her.

  17. Bertie permalink
    May 12, 2019 7:41 am

    From the article: “Burning coal to generate electricity is thought to be incompatible with avoiding catastrophic climate change, and the UK government has committed to phasing out coal-fired power by 2025″[my emphasis].
    Why would any right-thinking person base a policy decision – one that really will have ‘catastrophic’ effects – on such a shallow, unscientific and tenuous belief?

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      May 12, 2019 8:34 am

      The EU bio-fuel mandate had the opposite affect from saving CO2 too.

      Politicians are morons – as if you needed telling!

      • richard verney permalink
        May 12, 2019 3:26 pm

        But the EU think that if you reduce the power of a kettle down from 3kW to say 1.7kW you will reduce the amount of energy used thereby reducing CO2!!!

        They have no kowledge of understanding of science.

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        May 12, 2019 3:50 pm

        I thought that, in these days of unpredictable renewable energy, that reducing the power in a kettle reduced the chances of a spike in load on the grid at the end of TV program or sports event which is unsupportable on a cold windless night. I’m not sure if continentals have a hot drink in the same way as us Brits, but I imagine lights and coffee makers are switched on in the same way

  18. Mike Stoddart permalink
    May 12, 2019 10:29 am

    And who pays to keep these coal-fired stations on standby?

  19. Coeur de Lion permalink
    May 12, 2019 10:06 pm

    As I write 2200 on May 11, UK wind is producing one gigawatt or three per cent of demand. Come on BBC! You’v Missed a story!

  20. Stephen Burchell permalink
    May 13, 2019 1:35 pm

    They may be no coal generated electricity in the grid for that short time, but they’re still burning coal. They don’t just put the fires out, then get a load of firelighters into the boilers when the wind stops.

  21. May 14, 2019 11:07 am

    Moreover electricity is only one fifth of total energy needs.

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