Easy Being Green
It has been a banner year for clean energy in the United Kingdom. Bolstered by its ability to break more than a dozen renewable energy records in 2017, the country is celebrating its greenest year to date. One of the most notable of these achievements is that the U.K. has recorded its first full day without using coal power since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. That's a feat nearly three centuries in the making.
The push towards cleaner power is allowing the United Kingdom's environmental footprint to significantly shrink. Since 2012, the electricity sector has been able to cut its carbon emissions in half. This is enough to allow the U.K. to have the fourth cleanest power system in all of Europe and the seventh in the entire world. At this rate, the U.K.'s standing as an example of clean energy generation is only going to improve since the country has pledged to swap all coal power for green energy generation by 2025.
Signs of coal headed toward the extinction are showing around the world. In the U.K., solar panels generated more power than burning coal for an entire six month period. Off-shore wind farms are also making a huge dent in the renewable energy landscape by recording cheaper prices than nuclear power generation for the first time in history.
Experts are lauding the progress being made in the U.K. Gareth Redmond-King, head of energy and climate at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) expressed the importance of the country's efforts saying to the Independent, “Climate change is wreaking havoc on our nature and wildlife, but we are at last facing up to the challenge, turning our backs on polluting fossil fuels and embracing a new, clean future.” He continued saying, “This is a success in terms of power; we haven’t done so well in relation to cutting emissions in our homes and vehicles. That’s where we need more concerted action.”
The government already just happens to have a plan to that end. Earlier this summer, Westmister announced a plan to eliminate the production of new diesel and petrol cars in 2040. This effort will continue to help clear the skies of Britain of harmful pollutants which are linked to 40,000 premature deaths each year.
A focus on renewable energy is not just at home in the U.K. Efforts exist across Europe to speed the continent's clean energy revolution forward. Eurelectric, a major trade body composed of 3,500 power companies in Europe has recently updated its call for the continent to go carbon-neutral by 2050 by saying that this goal is possible to reach "well before" the middle of the century.
It is an exciting time for renewable energy, as the vast majority of the world moves away from fossil fuels that are harming the environment. The move toward carbon neutrality is an important step on the road to repairing centuries of damage we have done to the planet.