Renewables Expected to Generate More Energy than Coal in April, Possibly May as Well

by | Apr 30, 2019

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The renewable energy industry is expected to generate more electricity than coal during the month of April, something that’s never happened before. This news comes from a recent report published by the Institute for Energy Economics Financial Analysis.

The report says that coal, long the king of the power sector, has already been dethroned by natural gas, a much cleaner burning fossil fuel. Now, coal is facing intensifying pressure from wind and solar power. The analysis says that renewables may even trump coal through the month of May as well.

Referencing data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy generation will top coal-fired output sporadically this year, and again in 2020. The estimates in the EIA outlook show renewable energy generating 2,322 and 2,271 thousand megawatt-hours (MWh/day) per day in April and May, respectively. This would top coal’s expected output of 1,997 and 2,239 thousand MWh/day during the same two months.

The report says it is also likely renewable output will begin outpacing coal more and more frequently. The tipping point for renewable energy actually may already have been reached in Texas, where natural gas, wind and, increasingly, solar, are steadily pushing coal out of the system. According to data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) – the transmission operator running the system that supplies 90% of the state’s electric load – wind and solar generation topped coal’s output in the first quarter of 2019, the first time that this has happened on a quarterly basis. Overall, wind and solar capacity generated 19.41 million MWh during the first quarter, beating the 18.97 million MWh pumped out by the state’s coal-fired plants. Wind and solar output topped coal in March and April 2018, but had never done so before for a full quarter.

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