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Renewables Overtake Coal In U.S. In Electricity Generation

Hydropower plants, solar farms, and wind farms generated more electricity than coal in the United States for a record 40 days in a row, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis said in a new report.

The IEEFA had earlier forecast that renewables, including hydropower, would exceed coal in terms of electricity generation next year. But if the April trend continues, this target would be reached this year, the organization said.

Warm weather, low gas prices, and a substantial expansion in renewable installations at the end of 2019 all contributed to the performance of the segment, the IEEFA report noted, but so did the fall in demand for electricity brought about by the coronavirus outbreak.

While this is certainly good news, not all is well in renewables. 

Last month, a group of organizations working to expand the share of renewables in the United States’ energy mix warned that the pandemic was causing a loss of jobs in renewable energy, and this loss could reach half a million.

Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), the American Council on Renewable Energy, E4TheFuture, and B.W. Research Partnership analyzed jobs data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found that besides the 106,000 people who had already lost their jobs in renewable energy, more than half a million could also be out of their jobs over the next few months.

Despite this danger, the renewables industry in the U.S. has grown strongly during the first quarter. In just January and February, solar, wind, and hydropower accounted for as much as 85.7 percent of new generation capacity, FERC data showed. According to the data, solar, wind, and hydropower will continue expanding while fossil fuel-fired generation capacity will decline over the next three years.

In that, the U.S. reflects a broader global trend of new renewable capacity additions outpacing fossil fuels. The trend will likely slow down this year because of the economic fallout from the pandemic, but this will probably be just a temporary hurdle along the way.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Guy Daley on May 05 2020 said:
    It's unfortunate about coal but the carbon tax crowd are making that a trend because they have the EPA enforcing it. A couple of large coal generating plants have shut down recently, one of them a massive plant on the Navajo Indian reservation. On the other hand, China is building them as fast as possible and not just in China either.

    Media would like readers to believe that solar and wind are picking up ALL the slack on that front but natural gas is sitting there already and it is especially dirt cheap at the moment. Writers of energy articles would also like to point out that solar and wind is cheaper than natural gas without providing any figures whatsoever. We just have to take it as a given PLUS we aren't allowed to see their figures and take into consideration disposal/lifespan/cost of refurbishing windmills and solar panels and/or network of power lines to said installations. Nobody gets to verify their figures.
  • Maxander on May 05 2020 said:
    But are renewables more efficient & cost effective than coal? Certainly not.
    Generating Energh from renewables means ignoring economics. That's why I don't think America will keep growing above 1% in coming decade, forget about 2 or3%.

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