For 46 years the Longannet power station in Scotland, the largest coal plant in Europe, burned coal for energy. The plant, the last of its kind in Scotland, closed last Thursday, bringing an end, after 115 years, of coal for electricity.
Scotland, a country of some 5 million people, is on track to have enough renewable energy to power 100 percent of its electricity demand by 2020.Renewable electricity output has more than doubled
since 2007 and is equivalent to half of the electricity consumed. This surge in renewables follows a massive investment in onshore and offshore wind, which has established Scotland as a renewable energy leader in the region.
Environmentalists welcomed the end of Longannet, which burned around 4.5 million metric tons of coal a year, and was responsible for a fifth of Scotland’s climate change emissions. For a country which virtually invented the Industrial Revolution and for which coal had been central to the country’s economy for the past two centuries, this is a hugely significant step, marking the end of coal and the beginning of the end for fossil fuels in Scotland. With the closure of Longannet, the only major fossil fuel plant in Scotland is a gas plant at Peterhead, in the northeast.In the U.S. moving beyond coal continues with 232 plants announced for retirement.
While fossil fuels continue to have a role in the power sector, renewable energy is expected to continue the surge it has been enjoying. A new United Nations-backed report found
that coal and gas-fired electricity generation drew less than half the investment made in solar, wind, and other renewables in 2015.