Despite predictions and claims to the contrary, renewable energy is really starting to make a difference. More needs to be done before improvements are seen in the environment if the climate isn’t too far gone already, but change has begun in the economy. At the very least, the economic impact alone is beneficial.
April 2019 was the first time in American history that renewable energy generated more power than coal. Considering current trends, this won’t be the last time this momentous event happens, either. Renewable energy, including wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower, is predicted to leap over coal again in May.
Why Renewable Energy Beat Coal
There are actually a few reasons why coal was bested by renewable energy. The public’s climate change awareness has certainly provided a helping hand. Homes, businesses and even major corporations have made an effort to switch to cleaner energy. Governments around the world have implemented procedures and tax cuts to make clean energy easier and more affordable.
Another, more practical reason for the sudden spike of renewable energy is the time of year. Demand for electricity is lower in the springtime than it is during any other season. Because of this, many coal plants shut down for maintenance during these few months. At the same time, spring is great for hydro and wind power, so the balance tips in clean energy’s favor. All in all, renewable energy isn’t expected to surpass coal for the entire year, but it will someday in the future.
It’s of little shock that coal was going to be knocked off the podium eventually. Coal’s power generated dropped to 28% in 2018, cut nearly in half in less than a decade. With renewable energy on the rise, we’re not building more coal plants, which have a life between 40 to 60 years. Many are on the cusp of retirement, making way for a new generation of cleaner energy.
The more people learn about clean energy, the more they want to get involved. After all, it’s not only good for the environment, but is also healthy for the wallet. All excess power that goes into the grid is paid back to the owner, so renewable energy in a home quite literally pays for itself. Upfront costs and hassle is starting to become less of a headache, too. Anyone can get clean energy in their home on almost any budget plan, and the costs continue to drop as time goes on.
The march to only using renewable energy has been a very slow one, but we’ve made a lot of big strides in the last decade or so. Costs are lower, knowledge is more widespread and coal is becoming obsolete in the digital age. While natural gas still reigns supreme, there will come a time when even that is taken down by renewable energy’s steady climb to the top. The course we’re currently on could be swayed by almost anything, but things are looking great for renewable energy right now.