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More bad news for coal: wind and sun are getting cheaper

Wind and solar costs have fallen so fast that 74% of the US coal fleet could be scrapped for renewable energy – and still save money, according to a Monday unimpeded think-tank Energy Innovation.

This number of vulnerable coal plants in the United States will increase to 86% by 2025 as solar and wind costs continue to decline.

The study shows that the operation of existing coal-fired power plants is always more expensive than the construction of clean energy alternatives.

"US coal-fired power plants are more dangerous than ever," said Mike O & # 39; Boyle, director of energy innovation policy at CNN Business. "Almost three-quarters of US coal-fired power plants are already" zombie coal "or the walking dead."

This is despite the promise of President Donald Trump to revive the besieged coal industry. Trump declared the end of the "war on coal" and broke regulations that restricted the emissions of coal-fired power plants.

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Late last year, the government announced plans to lift the Obama era's coal emission rule to facilitate the opening of new coal-fired power plants. Trump even appointed Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, as the EPO chief.

"The Trump government's efforts to reduce environmental regulations are too little, too late to save coal," said O Boyle.

Rust Belt Coal-fired Power Plants Under Siege

The Energy Innovation Report found that by 2018, 211 gigawatts of existing US coal capacity – or 74% of the US fleet – were endangered by local wind or solar power, which could be cheaper as well Let the electricity run out.

North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Texas are the US states that have the largest number of coal-fired power plants vulnerable to local solar and wind energy. Energy Innovation defines locally as within 35 miles.

By 2025, it is expected that high levels of coal capacity will be available under pressure from renewable energy in midwestern Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Of course, just because it is economically feasible to shut down a coal-fired power plant and replace it with wind or solar does not mean that it will happen immediately. Government regulators must sign such decisions. And many power plants decide to pass on the additional costs to the customers.

In addition, coal remains an important employer in parts of Appalachia, and any closure can damage the local economy.

Coal dethroned

Coal was the long-time king of the energy industry before being exposed to fierce natural gas competition over the past decade. Natural gas is not only cleaner than fossil fuel, but abundant in the United States thanks to the shale revolution. Natural gas first exceeded coal in 2016 as America's leading power source.

The share of total power generation from coal-fired power plants has now fallen from 48% in 2008 to 28% in the last year, according to government statistics.

And the rise of renewables means that the economy has moved against coal again. Thanks to high levels of clean energy investment, solar prices have fallen by 90% since 2009 and are expected to continue to decline, according to Energy Innovation.

Against this backdrop, renewable energy generation is expected to be the fastest-growing source of power generation in the US over the next two years, according to a January report from the US Energy Information Administration.

Large scale solar power alone is expected to increase by 10% in 2019 alone, while wind power is expected to be ahead of hydropower for the first time, according to the EIA.

"Coals biggest threat is now economy, not regulations," said O Boyle.

New Mexico promises to become carbon-free

Another challenge for coal: US households and businesses are demanding more and more clean energy as they worry about climate change.

Households and companies install their own solar modules. According to the EIA, solar electricity generation in small areas is expected to grow by 44% over the next two years.

Pressured by voters, US states are setting ambitious targets for green energy – and they are portraying them as job creators.

Last week, Michelle Lujan Grisham, governor of New Mexico, signed a bold plan that aims to source half of government energy from renewable energy by 2030. By 2045, New Mexico plans to be 100% carbon-free.
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Future generations will benefit from both cleaners' environment and a more robust energy industry with exciting ones Career Opportunities, "Lujan Grisham said in a statement.

California and Hawaii have recently achieved 100% clean energy targets.

Some utilities are moving quickly to adapt to this new environment.

Xcel Energy XEL ) a Minneapolis-based energy company serving western and central states, recently committed to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050 to double Xcel's wind power and simultaneously to reduce dependence on coal.

All signs deu It is pointed out that more and more energy companies are becoming aware of the new reality of clean energy.

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