It’s official! Great Britain had its “greenest day” on Easter Monday, April 5.
What does that mean? Well, the company that runs the power lines which carry electricity around the “grid” linking England, Scotland and Wales said that it set a record low for the amount of carbon dioxide – CO2 – that was emitted to produce the electricity everyone used that day.
That’s good news for our hopes of reaching the world’s target of “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050 so as to keep planet Earth healthy.
CO2 is the “greenhouse gas” produced when you burn oil, gas or coal and it’s the main cause of global warming. We’re all trying to burn less and make more electricity from “renewables“, like the wind and sunshine.
The company, National Grid ESO, said that at lunchtime on Monday, the “energy intensity” of its electricity was 39 grammes of CO2 per kiloWatt/hour (gCO2/kWh). That’s a measure of how much CO2 is emitted for each unit of electricity.
ESO said that 39 grammes was “the lowest figure in history” – since Britain started generating electricity by burning coal 140 years ago – and that it showed that the country was cleaning up energy at “an astonishing rate”.
Thanks Sun! Thanks wind!
Coal, gas and oil produce hundreds of grammes of CO2 for every unit of electricity. Windmills, solar panels and so on produce none (though a bit of carbon is emitted when we make the equipment for wind farms etc).
Because Easter Monday was particularly sunny and windy in Britain, fully 60% of electricity used came just from sun and wind. (It also helped that most people were having a day off and so weren’t using so much electricity.)
Over the whole of last year, wind and solar generated 30 percent of Britain’s electricity. Other clean sources, like water power, are also increasing their output. The carbon intensity of British power for all of 2020 was about 160 grammes – well under half what it was 10 years ago.
Way to go…
We’ve still got a long way to go to stop global warming. We all need to use less and waste less.
But it’s good to know that if you switched on a light or boiled a kettle in Britain on Easter Monday, you were making a whole lot less greenhouse gas than you would have done a few years ago!