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Rainy U.K. Gets More Power From Solar Than Coal For The First Time In Over A Century

Renewable sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal, produced more electricity for the UK in May 2016 than coal did. CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK
Renewable sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal, produced more electricity for the UK in May 2016 than coal did. CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

As the world hits ever-increasing records for heat and CO2 concentrations, sometimes it’s good to look at the bright side.

In May, for the first time ever, solar produced more electricity than coal in the United Kingdom.

Shares of total U.K. electricity generation met by solar and coal during January to May 2016 (%). Sources: Sheffield Solar and Gridwatch. CREDIT: Carbon Brief
Shares of total U.K. electricity generation met by solar and coal during January to May 2016 (%). Sources: Sheffield Solar and Gridwatch. CREDIT: Carbon Brief

During last month, coal generation fell to zero on several days — possibly the first time that has happened since the country introduced widespread electrification in the late 1800s, according to analysis from Carbon Brief, a U.K.-based energy tracker.

This is not a passing fad. Last fall, the U.K. announced it would phase out all of its coal-fired power plants by 2025. According to the most recent data, the electricity sector accounts for nearly a third of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. (That is similar to the rate in the United States.)

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The news from the U.K. is not all good, though. The government plans on transitioning much of its generation to natural gas — which it intends to get by fracking large swaths of the country — and has recently cut subsidies to solar and made it more difficult to develop onshore wind power generation.

Tiny English Village Fights Fossil Fuel Industry To Avoid Becoming Ground Zero For British FrackingNORTH YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND – Through the decades, the English countryside has been known to American audiences as the…thinkprogress.orgMeanwhile, new data from the United States is also showing an upward trend for renewable energy sources.

Hydro, wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal sources made up nearly a fifth of all the electricity generated in the United States in March, according to new data from the Energy Information Administration. While renewables did not surpass coal nationally, they did in Texas, and the trend is clearly bending in favor of clean energy.

Worldwide, renewable energy just keeps growing. Last year saw more renewable energy generation installed than ever before, recent data showed. And in May, Portugal ran for four straight days on renewable energy alone.