Newly installed solar panels at the construction site of a new solar power park next to a wind farm, near Prenzlau, Germany, April 6, 2023. Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Founded in 2005 as an Ohio-based environmental journal, EcoWatch is a digital platform dedicated to publishing quality scientific content about environmental problems, causes and solutions.
Solar And wind electricity generation set a new record, with more electricity generated from those renewable energies that coal for the first five months of 2023, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA), as reported by CBS News.
This is the first time solar and wind production has outperformed coal for five straight months, said industry publication E&E News.
“From a production cost perspective, renewables are the cheapest thing to use – wind and solar. So we are going to see more and more of these records,” said Ram Rajagopal, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, as reported by CBS News.
EIA data showed solar and wind power producing coal for the first three months of the year, but figures for April and May are only preliminary, according to the EIA spokesperson, Chris Higginbotham.
“Our official Electric Power Monthly estimates show that combined wind and solar power generation exceeded coal-fired generation in January, February and March,” Higginbotham said, as reported by E&E News. “Our real-time data, which is subject to revision, indicates that this trend continued into April and May.”
If hydropower is added to the calculations, the record spans more than six months, with renewables streaking to overtake coal starting last October, the EIA said, as reported by CBS News.
As recently as 2008, nearly half of the country’s electricity was generated by coal, but it has been steadily declining since, replaced by renewables and natural gasreported E&E News.
“As electricity providers generate more electricity from renewable sources, we see electricity generated from coal decline over the next year and a half,” the EIA administrator said. Joe DeCarolis said in May, according to an EIA press release. “We expect the United States to produce less electricity from coal this year than any year this century.”
An additional 22.5 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind capacity were added in the past year ending May, a EIA report from the beginning of this month said.
Stopping coal production once and for all can only be good for the climate. Although it represents about one-fifth of the energy networkthe use of coal accounts for more than half of greenhouse gas emissions of the electricity sector, according to data from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
The expansion of renewable energy has been stimulated by the Inflation Reduction Actbut connecting green power sources to the US electric grid has been a tedious process.
According to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report that, on average, a renewable energy project that came online last year waited five years between applying for grid connection and commencing commercial operations. Between 2000 and 2007, the wait was less than two years.
According to the report, 1,350 GW of capacity from more than 10,000 projects are waiting to be connected to the grid, most of them renewable energy.
“(T)here’s this concern that the capacity isn’t connecting fast enough, not because it’s not economical, but because the interconnection process is really clogged right now,” said Metin Celebi, a analyst who follows the industry at the Brattle Group, as reported by E&E News.