The largest and last coal-fired plant in operation in Scotland was officially shut down, marking an end for an 115-years-long history of burning coal in the country.
Officials, journalists and former workers crowded the control room of the Longannet power station to say their goodbyes. Over the decades, the plant has served Scotland well and up until its last days it still provided a quarter of all Scottish homes with electricity. It was also responsible for a fifth of the country’s carbon emissions. Regulations, carbon taxes and expensive maintenance prompted Scottish Power, which owns Longannet, to close down the plant. “Ok, here we go,” said one engineer before pressing a big red button that discontinued the turbines.
Taking over from Longannet will be nuclear and gas, helped by the booming renewable energy industry. Home to 5 million people, Scotland generates enough wind power to supply 33% of its residents’ energy needs. It’s growing fast too. While the rest of the UK and much of Europe are slowing down their renewable energy implementation, Scotland doubled its wind power in only one year, as of 2015. The country aims to become 100% renewable energy power by 2020 — that’s only four years from now!
Solar panels are not to be neglected either, although weather conditions largely favor wind turbines. “Sunshine generated more than four-fifths of the electricity and hot water needs of homes fitted with solar panels,” said WWF Scotland.
“Coal has long been the dominant force in Scotland’s electricity generation fleet, but the closure of Longannet signals the end of an era,” Hugh Finlay, generation director at Scottish Power, told the Guardian.
“For a country which virtually invented the Industrial Revolution, this is a hugely significant step, marking the end of coal and the beginning of the end for fossil fuels in Scotland,” Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said in a statement.
Amber Rudd, the UK’s Secretary of Energy and Climate Change, said last year that Britain will replace all coal fired plants with gas. All UK coal-fired power plants will shut down by 2025.