Green and renewable energy are on the rise in the United States. Politicians have begun to call for increasingly sweeping green legislation, popular support for green energy is at an all-time high, and the renewable industry energy has just hit a major milestone: last April, renewable energy, including wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric, produced more energy for the US than the entire coal industry. If April is any indication, this trend isn’t likely to slow down during the energy-intensive summer ahead.
A study from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, or the IEEFA, a non-profit advocacy group focussing on transitioning our nation’s power supply to renewable sources, showed that renewable energy sources were on course to top coal by approximately 2,000-megawatt-hours per day in April. Their research indicates that this trend will continue in May and throughout the rest of the year as the country continues its slow transition to green energy. The analysis was done on data harvested by the Federal Energy Information Administration. While this data is hopeful for a green energy surge, it does not indicate that the renewable energy industry has come to dethrone King Coal.
The spring in the United States is, historically, a low energy use period. With warm, amiable weather in full swing, American use less energy in spring than any other time of the year. The coal industry has traditionally used this period as a bit of a maintenance window. Across the country, coal energy plants shut down in shifts for repairs and the occasional upgrade. Spring thaws and rain storms also give hydroelectric power an annual surge in output. These factors, in addition to an increased demand for sustainable power, have been behind April’s green energy dominance. And energy companies like Quake Energy are leading the charge.
Although April brought significant gains for green power, coal has been on the decline for years now. In 2015, the coal industry was topped for the first time by natural gas. The demand for coal has been decreasing across the country for decades as the American energy supply diversified and shifted. This industry-wide shift has come from a surprising location: Texas.
The state of Texas is a pioneer in American green energy. In 2019, the state’s entire first quarter was dominated by renewable sources. Texas joins states like California and Hawaii in the transition to carbon-neutral emissions. This change will lower, or even eventually eliminate, the demand for coal across the nation.
This upward trend in renewable energy has also come at a time when America’s carbon emissions have increased for the first time years. Last year’s emissions went up by 3.4% which went against a multi-year trend in lowered emissions. The switch to green power could not come any sooner.
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