New data shows that the rest of the U.S. could be following Texas with renewable energy set to surpass coal as a source of electricity for the first time. Renewable energy is booming across the U.S. now that solar and wind are exponentially cheaper than they were a decade ago.
Although Texas passed this threshold last year, this will be the first time that the U.S., as a whole, is set to have renewable sources of energy overtake coal for the production of electricity.
Will Coal be another victim of the Coronavirus pandemic?
With businesses shutting down nationwide because of the COVID-19 pandemic electricity usage has declined precipitously.
Because coal plants are more expensive to run than natural gas, there has not been a lot of justification for a resurgence of coal. Or in other words, as businesses are shuttered, coal plants continue to gather cobwebs.
As mentioned before, Texas has seen a decline in coal for many years. This was first driven by cheap natural gas and in recent years more so by the proliferation of wind energy. This year, Texas has almost tripled the amount of electricity derived from renewable means over coal production. Of course, a lot of this has to do with large renewable energy infrastructure that Texas boasts, but it is still a telling detail.
Will Coal Rebound Later This Year?
The question that many are asking is will coal rebound later this year?
Many are expecting a resurgence – or a brief return to form – for coal once business reopen. More than likely though, keeping coal plants running will continue to be more expensive than they are worth.
After all, coal plants have fallen below 50 percent of operating capacity, meaning that they are quickly making less sense to keep running. Especially with the EIA projecting average coal consumption to decrease by 23% in 2020.
Their rationale behind the percentage is derived from low natural gas prices, the COVID-19 economic impacts on the coal industry, and an already strong uptick in renewable energy sources.
Texas has only produced 16% percent of energy from coal so far this year. It seems safe to say that alternative renewable energy models are cheaper and more sustainable in the long term than coal.