The Powering Past Coal Alliance: What is it, and why is it so important?
3rd February 2020
Renewable energy has been on a roll for the last few years. As the UK, Europe and the rest of the world are demonstrating the importance of a swift transition away from fossil fuels, deployment of renewable sources has rocketed.
As this has happened, there has been striking change in the UK’s energy mix. The pace of this change is remarkable; there have been several new records set around energy generation, including 12 records in 2017 and one to kickstart 2018. In April, there was a remarkable three day stretch without any coal generation, the UK’s longest ever period without coal burn.
With so much good work already done in the shift towards renewable sources, a voluntary coalition has come together to lead the push for global, coal-free energy generation. The Powering Past Coal Alliance has a mission to end unabated coal use, and has signed up more than 50 significant international members to date.
Composed of businesses, charitable institutions, environmental agencies, countries and states, the initiative aims to go above and beyond the targets set out by the Paris Agreement and to achieve “the rapid phase-out of traditional coal power”.
Co-founded by the UK and Canada at the UN Conference of Parties in November 2017 (COP23), the Powering Past Coal Alliance set a target to sign-up 50 members by November 2018 (the date of COP24), but reached its target by April.
Members of the alliance include Costa Rica, Ireland, and Fiji, as well as several businesses, regional governments and a philanthropic organisation in Bloomberg Philanthropies.
One of the most recent signatories to the Powering Past Coal Alliance is the Drax Group. As the owner and operator of the largest power station in Western Europe, Drax’s involvement is significant. Having already converted half of its Yorkshire power station to run on renewable biomass instead of coal, Drax is continuing to take steps to help the UK reach its decarbonisation goals.
As the UK looks to continue its decarbonisation and meet the government target of a coal-free energy system by 2025, Drax Group’s decision to join the Powering Past Coal alliance underlines the group’s commitment to change the way energy is generated, supplied and used for a better future.
Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO, announced that Drax will be coal-free by the 2025 target, and possibly even earlier thanks to plans which would see the remaining coal generation at the Drax power station converted to gas and the installation of a battery microgrid.
In the same month that the UK went for more than three consecutive days without coal-powered energy generation, the commitment by Drax and all signatories to the Powering Past Coal Alliance demonstrates the growing significance of renewable energy.
Signatory countries (at time of publishing)
- Costa Rica
- New Zealand
Signatory businesses (at time of publishing)
- Drax Group
- Virgin Group
- Marks & Spencer
- Natura Cosmetics