LONDON-For the first time since the Industrial Revolution, Britain is obtaining more power from zero-carbon sources than fossil fuels.The milestone has been passed for the first five months of 2019.

National Grid says clean energy has nudged ahead with 48% of generation, against 47% for coal and gas.

The rest is biomass burning. The transformation reflects the precipitous decline of coal energy, and a boom from wind and solar.

National Grid says that in the past decade, coal generation will have plunged from 30% to 3%.

Meanwhile, wind power has shot up from 1% to 19%.

Mini-milestones have been passed along the way. In May, for instance, Britain clocked up its first coal-free fortnight and generated record levels of solar power for two consecutive days.

The shift is being driven by the need to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases that are over-heating the climate. The electricity sector was seen as the easiest place to start.

John Pettigrew, CEO of National Grid, told BBC News: “Over the last 10 years there’s been real progress in de-carbonisation of the energy system – but 2019 is going to be a key milestone.

“It’s the first time since the Industrial Revolution that more electricity has been produced from zero and low-carbon sources rather than fossil fuels. It’s tremendously exciting because it’s such a tipping point.”

National Grid says it is confident to make predictions for Britain’s whole year power generation based on figures so far and on historical patterns.

In years to come, more energy storage will be needed as the share of wind and solar energy swells further.

Can cars help with electricity supplies?

Mr Pettigrew told us some of the renewable energy generated when the wind is blowing or the Sun is shining will be stored in the batteries of people’s electric cars for use later.

The cars’ charging systems will be reversed so their batteries can feed electricity back to the grid when demand peaks – like when people are cooking supper.

“One of key attributes of electric vehicles is they have a battery and therefore they can be used as a source of energy on to the network,” he said.

“We could aggregate all the cars and use that electricity to support the grid when it’s needed. It’s going to be a really effective tool for us to keep costs down.”

The firm estimates this vehicle-to-grid technology (V2G) could solve 10-15% of the UK’s demand for storage.

But it’s hard to be confident about projections because autonomous vehicles may disrupt patterns of car usage and ownership.

How much energy will we buy from Europe?

Another way of filling in the gaps in energy when the wind’s not blowing is by trading with continental neighbours.