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US Green Energy Arrives at New Milestone as Renewable Energy Power Generation Exceeds Coal-fired Power for 40 Days Continuously

published: 2020-06-05 4:00

The harvest period for the numerous solar and wind power sites that implemented grid construction at the end of 2019 has arrived. According to the data from the Hourly Electric Grid Monitor of the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the power generation of green energy, including solar power, wind power, and hydropower, between March 25th and May 3rd, has exceeded coal-fired power generation for 40 days, arriving at a new milestone.

Renewable energy in the US achieved remarkable results in April 2020, which has surpassed the record in 2019. The green power generation exceeded coal-fired power for merely 38 days in 2019, which was primarily focused in April, where the power generation of renewable energy exceeded coal-fired power for 19 days, though with only 9 continuous days.

Such exceptional result in the US renewable energy sector did not only come from the grid construction of numerous sites at the end of 2019, but also the gradual reduction in the ratio of coal-fired power. As indicated by the preliminary data of EIA, the increasing cost of coal has prompted many utility power companies to progressively shift to other energy such as natural gas and renewable energy.

Looking back to 2008, the ratio of coal-fired power in the US was over 50% from January to March, and the capacity of coal-fired power had even reached to the maximum level of 318GW in 2011, before entering the incessant decline. As power plants are retired or transformed to natural gas power plants, the capacity of coal-fired power in 2019 had decreased to 229GW, which is a reduction of 28%. The ratio of coal-fired power in January 2020 plummeted to below 20% at 19.9%, and the figure was lowered to 18.3% and 17.3% for February and March respectively, then dropped to merely 15.3% in April.

The data of EIA also pointed out that the coal-fired power generation in 2019 was the lowest in the US since 1976 at 966K GWh, which had a record large YoY reduction of 16%. EIA expressed that the increase in the power generation of natural gas and wind power, as well as the decrease in demand for power, have resulted in the deterioration of coal-fired power ratio.

The power generation of natural gas in the US was 1.6 million GWh during 2019, and wind power had a 300K GWh of power generation, with both arriving at record high, and had an 8% and 10% respective growth. EIA also anticipates that the renewable energy in the US during 2020 may increase by another 11%, and IHS Markit also forecasts that US utility power companies will reduce another 130 million tons of coal usage.

 (Cover photo source: Flickr/Andrew CC BY 2.0)

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