Thanks to the need for low power and the US’s high wind power output, the output of renewable-energy power in the US has exceeded that of coal-fired thermal power for the first time ever in April.
The intensified deployment in renewable energy in the U.S. in recent years has begun to bear fruit. In April, the total output of hydraulic power, solar power, and wind power approached 68.5 million megawatt/h, which is higher than the 60 million megawatt/h of coal-fired power. This has allowed renewable energy power to become the US’s second largest source of power supply, next to natural gas-fired thermal power, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). In the same month, the US’s total renewable-energy power accounted for 23% of its total power supply, which is higher than the 20% share of coal-fired power in April. Despite temporarily losing to renewable energy power, coal fired power is still expected to regain its second-place spot following the completion of maintenance at some of the US’s coal-fired thermal power plants.
Given their significant cost drop in recent years, green energy power is expected become an irresistible current. Thanks to the US’s vigorous installation of PV power and wind power systems, the overall output of renewable-energy power in the US topped 742 million megawatt/h in 2018; this represents 17.6% of the country’s total power supply, which is double the amount of 2008’s 382 million megawatt/h.
As of the end of April 2019, the U.S. has built a total of 18 wind farms totaling 1,545 MW in capacity and 102 PV power stations with a total capacity of around 1,473 MW. The country has also built four new hydraulic power plants, which accounts for 21.56% of the nation's total power capacity.
By comparison, the share of coal-fired thermal power in the country has been in constant decline. According to a report released by the EIA in January, up to half of the coal mines in the U.S. have been closed over the past 10 years. Market information body Rhodium Group also pointed out that the number of closed coal-fired thermal power plants during 2010-2016 is higher than that of the remaining ones, predicting that over 71 GW (or 124 GW in the worst-case scenario) will be shut down by 2030.
Recently, Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, has donated up to US$500 million to fund the "Beyond Carbon" initiative which aims to close nearly 250 coal-fired thermal power plants in the U.S. by 2030, on top of stopping the construction of any new natural gas-fired thermal power plant.
In August 2018, the California State Legislature also passed a bill which called for the cessation of coal- and natural gas-fired thermal power plants entirely by 2045. A similar policy was passed in New York City in February of 2019, which aims to attain 100% green power supply by 2040.
In Nov. 2018, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that due to policy promotions and cost drops, the world’s renewable energy will become a key technology for power generation. Its share in the global power supply is expected to top 40% by 2040, when that of coal-fired power will decline to 25%, down from 40% now.
(Collaborative media: TechNews, first photo courtesy of pixabay)