The clean energy revolution in America has arrived at a significant turning point.
According to a report published today by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), the renewable energy sector in the US is projected to generate more electricity than coal fired plants for the first time ever this month. Renewable energy includes power derived from hydro, biomass, wind, solar and geothermal.
There are seasonal considerations due to lower coal usage in the spring and the practice of taking coal plants offline in months where usage is lower, but the transition underway in the generation of clean energy can’t be overlooked. IEFFA forecasts steady increases in the amount of installed solar and wind generation and predicts that renewable output will begin outpacing coal more frequently.
Sun Light & Power’s President and CEO, Gary Gerber, said, “It has been a long time coming, but we had faith we would reach this point. Due to the many businesses and home owners in California who have said ‘Yes’ to solar, our state has led the charge to show the world it could be done. Their collective effort and investment in solar have brought us to this point. I could not be prouder of the people who work hard to support the clean energy movement.”
According to a report published in January by the US Energy Department, renewable energy led by solar and wind is projected to be the fastest growing source of US electricity generation for at least the next two years. Coal’s share of total power generation tumbled from 45% in 2010 to 28% in 2018. And it’s expected to dip to just 24% in 2020.
Another contributing factor in the decline of coal is coal plants are aging and are requiring significant investment to maintain and repair. Coal plants are designed to last only about 60 years before being phased out. As mentioned in this week’s podcast of the Interchange, a weekly global energy discussion, it is more economical to build clean energy systems than to repair and maintain existing coal plants.
The trend of clean energy generation surpassing coal will happen sporadically over the next several years, says IEEEFA, and may also occur in May. April 2019 is a month to for those of us who believe in the future of clean energy to remember and celebrate.