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A major UK energy firm has ditched fossil fuels in favour of 100% wind power for the first time. 

Scottish Power has spent the last decade closing all its coal plants, and has now completed the sale of its remaining gas and hydro stations.

Keith Anderson, Scottish Power’s chief executive, described it as a “pivotal shift” for the company, as “we realise a long-term ambition.” 

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“We are leaving carbon generation behind for a renewable future powered by cheaper green energy,” he said, adding that the firm has “built enough wind to power 1.2 million homes.” 

“Every working day we are investing over £4 million to deliver cleaner, smarter power for customers,” he added. “From today we can focus solely on making energy generation cheaper, cutting carbon quicker, building smart grids, and connecting customers to a renewable electric future for transportation and heating.” 

Environmental campaign groups have said the move, announced on Tuesday, is “hugely welcome.” 

“Too often people talk about renewables being the future but this just shows how critical a role they already play in the here and now — cutting emissions, creating jobs, and keeping our lights on,” said Dr. Sam Gardner, acting director at WWF Scotland, in a statement. 

“The latest climate science tells us that we will need to see this kind of transition replicated around the world and we’re proud to see a Scottish company creating a portfolio that works to keep people and nature safe,” he said. 

Kate Blagojevic, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, added: “Big utilities across Europe have been shedding their dirty fossil fuel infrastructure because it makes economic and environmental sense. This move by Scottish Power shows that the same maths adds up in the UK too.”

“Climate science could not be clearer that renewables are the future for powering our world,” she said. 

Scottish Power sold off its final gas and hydro stations to UK power supplier Drax — which is also moving away from coal — for £702 million.

Currently, according to Scottish Power’s statement, it has 2,700 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity currently operating or under construction in Britain. And planned projects for the future are capable of more than doubling that.

It will be investing £5.2 billion to 2022, with a specific focus on renewable energy, enhanced grid networks, and smart technology for customers. 

The BBC reported that it doesn't mean customers of Scottish Power will be using electricity only generated through wind energy, however. That’s because producers that use other types of power to generate electricity all feed into the UK grid. 

“Energy companies must be part of the solution to climate change,” said Ignacio Galan, chairman and CEO of Iberdrola, the Spanish owner of Scottish Power, in a statement. “Iberdrola is acting now to cut carbon emissions 30% by 2020 and be carbon neutral by 2050.” 

In October last year, Britain committed to put an end to the use of coal in generating electricity by 2025. The announcement came as a joint initiative with Canada — which will also be closing all its coal power stations by 2030. 

The countries said that cutting out coal — the “dirtiest fossil fuel” — would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the health of communities, and benefit generations to come. 


Defend the Planet

This Is the First Major UK Energy Company to Use 100% Wind Power

By Imogen Calderwood