In April, for the first time ever, the US produced more energy from renewable sources than from coal in a single month.
According to data from the US Energy Information Administration, hydroelectric dams, solar panels, and wind turbines generated 68.5 million megawatt-hours of energy during the month of April 2019.
This was compared to 60 million megawatt-hours of energy produced from coal in the same month.
The trend comes despite President Donald Trump pledging to ‘bring back’ the coal industry, which has been hit hard by competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy.
Coal produced less energy in April than renewable sources, for the first time in US history
The US has been shifting toward natural gas, which is not only cheaper than coal, but also emits less carbon dioxide.
However, experts noted that several coal plants were down for routine maintenance in April, and the month saw an increase in wind generation and a drop in energy demand.
This suggests that coal could easily take over from renewable sources in the following months.
Despite this, a report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said that the trend could potentially extend into the month of May.
The trend will happen sporadically throughout the next several years, says the IEEFA, as renewable energy becomes cheaper and the world’s attention focuses on mitigating the effects of carbon-fueled climate change by turning away from fossil fuels.
Renewable energy has closed the gap on coal which has fallen out of favor throughout the last several decades. However, they still constitute a relatively small portion of U.S. production
President Donald Trump had previously pledged to ‘bring back’ the coal industry in the US
Growth in both solar and wind power has been particularly stark with the former producing 48 times more electricity than it did a decade ago due to cheaper equipment and government incentives.
Coupled with a rise in renewables has been a trend of declining coal consumption.
Last year, coal hit a nearly 40-year low in terms of proportional usage in the U.S.
Coal has fallen out of favor in part due to decreasing costs of natural gas.
In 2016, it was dethroned as the America’s fuel of choice by natural gas, a feat aided in part by a thriving hydro-fracking industry that continues to pump abundant fossil fuels out of the Bakken Oil Shale in North Dakota.
The US has been shifting toward natural gas, which is not only cheaper than coal, but also emits less carbon dioxide
The Trump administration on Wednesday completed one of its biggest rollbacks of environmental rules, replacing a landmark Obama-era effort that sought to wean the nation’s electrical grid off coal-fired power plants and their climate-damaging pollution.
Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, signed a replacement rule that gives states leeway in deciding whether to require efficiency upgrades at existing coal plants.
Wheeler said coal-fired power plants remained essential to the power grid, something that opponents deny.
‘Americans want reliable energy that they can afford,’ he said at a news conference. There’s no denying ‘the fact that fossil fuels will continue to be an important part of the mix,’ he said.
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