Renewable energy production surpasses coal in US for first time

Renewable energy production surpasses coal in US for first time

The Hill
June 27, 2019

By Rebecca Beitsch

Renewable energy production surpassed coal-fired generation for the first time in the U.S., according to the latest figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Sources like wind and solar energy provided 23 percent of America’s electricity in April, compared to 20 percent from coal, the agency announced Wednesday.

“Record generation from wind and near-record generation from solar contributed to the overall rise in renewable electricity generation this spring,” EIA said on its website.

The bulk of renewable generation comes from wind power and hydroelectricity.

President Trump has made repeated promises to save a coal industry he says was damaged by the Obama administration, but energy experts have contended market forces are behind coal’s decline.

A number of utilities have announced their intention to cease their reliance on coal and close coal-fired power plants by dates ranging from 2030 to 2050.

Big-box retailers like Target have also made pledges to transition to renewable energy to power their stores.

But many states are also pushing the shift toward green energy, increasing renewable energy mandates for utilities within their borders.

States like Hawaii, California and New York have pledged to reach 100 percent clean energy by as soon as 2040.

Doug Vine, a senior energy fellow with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions said there are a number of factors at play.

Spring tends to be the best season for hydro power, as snow melt increases the water flowing to plants. There’s also been a steady increase in the use of natural gas alongside renewables.

One month is not enough data to declare coal is dead, Vine said, “but it is pointing to a trend we’ve been seeing going on for some time that is the general decline in coal and the significant increase in wind and solar deployment.”