Hats off to the workers at Longannet power station.
"For the first time in more than a century, no power produced in Scotland will come from burning coal."
That's according to Hugh Finlay, the generation director for energy firm ScottishPower. The company's last coal-burning plant in the country, Longannet power station, closed on March 24, 2016, making Scotland one of the first nations in the world to officially end its reliance on the dirty energy source.
“It was uneconomic to continue," a ScottishPower spokesperson told The Guardian, noting increased carbon taxes on the aging facility — once the largest in Europe — made operations increasingly costly.
This is a big deal for Scotland, which has its eyes set on a 100% clean energy future.
Scotland has big green goals, and it's not just talking the talk.
By 2020, Scotland wants all of its electricity demand to come from renewable sources, as CNBC reported. The funny thing is, they just might pull it off.
Data released last June showed half of Scotland's energy came from renewables in 2014 — up significantly from 2010, when that figure stood at just about 24%. The upward trend will only continue.
"Renewable energy is a central element of our strategy for a successful Scotland," Fergus Ewing, the country's minister for energy, enterprise, and tourism, wrote in a 2013 report. The country's efforts won't just be better for the planet, he noted — they'll boost job creation and investment opportunities as well.
But for the folks at Longannet power station, the closing was a bittersweet affair.
While prioritizing green energy creates jobs for the future, other roles are lost to a changing economy. And no one knows that better than the workers at Longannet.
“It’s been a great place to work — a great bunch of guys to work with,” one worker said in a video, seen below, that captured the moment the plant shut down. “I’ll miss the vibrancy of Longannet when I leave."
“Longannet has contributed more electricity for the national grid than any other power station in Scotland’s history," Finlay said in a statement. "It is a sad day for everyone at ScottishPower."
More than 230 jobs will be lost due to the closure, and roughly 1,000 indirect jobs outside the plant could be affected, The Guardian reported.
Still, moving away from coal is something to celebrate because it's in all our best interests.
Our addiction to coal is a big contributor to our collective carbon footprint, which is the driving force behind climate change. Luckily, we're curbing our addiction.
New data revealed at the UN's climate talks in Paris found 2015 could be the very first year global carbon emissions stalled — or even declined — during a period of economic growth. China — one of the world's biggest coal users — is moving away from its dirty energy habit, which is a big reason behind the benchmark.
"[China is] restructuring its economy," said Professor Corinne Le Quere of the University of East Anglia in the U.K., who led the study. "But there is also a contribution from the very fast growth in renewable energy worldwide."
As the team at Longannet knows well, going green can be tough. But Scotland is showing the world how it's done...
...one coal plant at a time.
Cheers* to a clean energy 2020.