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Britain sees first coal-free day since Industrial Revolution

Britain has experienced its first full day without generating any electricity from coal since the Industrial Revolution.

The "watershed" moment was confirmed by the National Grid on Friday night.

It is the first continuous 24-hour coal-free period for Britain since use of the fossil fuel began.

Cordi O'Hara of the National Grid said: "To have the first working day without coal since the start of the industrial revolution is a watershed moment in how our energy system is changing.

"The UK benefits from highly diverse and flexible sources of electricity. Our energy mix continues to change and National Grid adapts system operation to embrace these changes.

"However, It's important to remember coal is still an important source of energy as we transition to a low carbon system."

It is thought to be the first time the country has been without electricity from coal since the world's first centralised public coal-fired generator opened at Holborn Viaduct in London, in 1882.

The electricity grid has been coal-free a number of times since last spring, as gas and renewables such as wind and solar play an increasing role in providing the country with power.

The longest continuous period until now was 19 hours - first achieved on a weekend last May, and matched on Thursday.

Coal has seen significant declines in recent years, accounting for just 9% of electricity generation in 2016, down from around 23% the year before, as coal plants closed or switched to burning biomass such as wood pellets.

The Government has pledged to phase out coal - the most polluting fossil fuel - from the system by 2025 as part of efforts to cut carbon emissions in the UK.

Hannah Martin, from Greenpeace UK, said: "The first day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution marks a watershed in the energy transition.

"A decade ago, a day without coal would have been unimaginable, and in 10 years' time our energy system will have radically transformed again.

"It is a clear message to any new government that they should prioritise making the UK a world leader in clean, green technology.

"They will need to get on with the coal phase-out plan and recognise the economic potential of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

"We can meet the UK's needs for skilled jobs and fair bills, whilst also meeting our climate targets."

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