Solar And Wind Exceed Coal Energy Production in the US for First Time

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2023

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Sputnik International

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coal energy production, solar and wind production in the united states, natural gas, hydroelectric power

coal energy production, solar and wind production in the united states, natural gas, hydroelectric power

Coal was once the king of energy production in the United States but has seen a rapid decline from its peak in 2007.

Wind and solar power generated more energy than coal in the United States for the very first time, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The finding marks the first time renewable energy beat coal in the United States without including hydroelectric power in the equation. It is largely the result of a US decline in coal use since its peak in 2007, when it was the primary nationwide source of energy, making up nearly half of the nation’s energy production.

While still a major energy source in America, coal has since fallen far behind natural gas as the most common energy source in the nation, and has been facilitating between second and third with nuclear power since the start of the decade.

Coal energy is still more prevalent than wind, solar and hydro individually, but combined they far exceeded coal production in 2023. Solar and wind generated 252 terawatt-hours (TWh) over the first five months of 2023 combined, compared to 248 TWh from coal. When adding hydroelectric power, renewables accounted for 369 TWh.

Renewables including hydroelectric power exceeded coal in 2020 and 2022, but this marks the first time that solar and wind alone exceeded coal production.

The data for April and May came from preliminary real-time monitoring, and is subject to change, but if it holds it will signal a significant shift for the United States away from coal power.

“We expect that the United States will generate less electricity from coal this year than in any year this century,” EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis said in May’s forecast. “As electricity providers generate more electricity from renewable sources, we see electricity generated from coal decline over the next year and a half.”

Coal saw a brief resurgence last year as natural gas prices skyrocketed due to Western sanctions on Russia and supply chain issues. But that resurgence was seemingly short-lived as natural gas prices have fallen and solar and wind capacity has grown.

“From a coal perspective, it has been a disaster,” Andy Blumenfeld, an analyst who tracks the industry at McCloskey by OPIS, told US media. “The decline is happening faster than anyone anticipated.”

EIA figures indicate coal production has dropped 27% since last year and fell below production levels in 2020 when much of the economy was shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The EIA says they expect energy production from coal to be 15% lower during the summer months this year compared to 2022.

The switch has seemingly resulted in less carbon emissions by the United States, with data from Carbon Monitor indicating emissions are down 5.6% since April 2022. However, fossil fuels in general, including natural gas, are still the largest source of energy in the United States.

However, coal is excessively dirty compared to other sources. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, coal accounted for 55% of carbon emissions from the power sector in 2022, despite only accounting for 20% of its power generation.





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