WASHINGTON – In a historic tipping point, renewable energy sources this month will generate more electricity in the U.S. than coal-fired power plants for the first time, new federal data show.
The Energy Information Administration’s latest short-term energy outlook report says wind, solar, hydropower, biomass and geothermal are projected to top coal’s output in April by about 16 percent. According to an analysis of the EIA data by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, this is the first time renewables have surpassed coal. The government says monthly output will go up and down, but renewables are expected to beat coal over the entire year and in 2020.
“The future of the U.S. electricity generation industry may have arrived, and it is not good news for struggling coal-fired generating plants,” said the institute.
The costs of wind and solar power are falling quickly and sharply: Within the past decade, the cost of solar power dropped by nearly 90 percent and wind power by nearly 70 percent. By contrast, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance study a year ago found that half of U.S. coal plants are not making enough money to stay open in a free market.
Yet the Trump administration, and lawmakers in some states, continue to support schemes that would give huge taxpayer-financed bailouts to money-losing coal plants, to keep them burning a dirty fuel that drives climate change and is a severe threat to public health.
“The market has spoken loudly: The competition for America’s energy future is over, and coal has lost,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Why, then, do President Trump and some short-sighted lawmakers want to prop up a loser?”
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.