In what should be considered as a massive achievement towards a more sustainable future, coal consumption in the US has dropped to its lowest point in 40 years. It experienced a drop of 39% compared to the peak usage in the year 2008, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
With preference for renewable energy sources on the rise, coal is left behind and is experiencing a (slight) drop compared to the total energy from various renewable sources. According to a report published by the the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), for January to April this month, the added share of renewable energy sources (including hydroelectricity, solar and wind power) is 21.56% of the total installed capacity. While coal lags behind at 21.55%. Last year this figure for coal was 23.04%. Though the difference is small about 0.01%, it accounts to 0.12 gigawatts of installed capacity.
The FERC reports suggests that this gap between coal and renewable sources will only widen in the next few months. A month earlier, the same was predicted by Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) whose findings were based on the data published by Energy Information Administration (EIA) in the month of April. The data showed that the renewable energy will generate 2,322 and 2,271 gigawatt-hours-per-day (GWh/day) while coal would generate 1,997 and 2,239 GWh/day during the months April and May.
It is reasoned that the drop is due to seasonal demand in the energy sources. The demand for coal lowers in spring and fall while that of hydroelectricity increases.
But the fact that power generation by renewable sources is surpassing (or at least equating) with that of coal is an amazing feat. This signifies the change in public and commercial outlook of adopting renewable energy over coal.
Also, FERC’s report forecast that renewable energy sources will provide nearly one-quarter (i.e., 24.15%) of the nation’s total available installed generating capacity in next three years, With wind providing more than 10% of this generating capacity which is one-tenth of the generated capacity.