Renewable Energy Sources Expected Outpace Coal This Spring

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Short-Term Energy Outlook says power from hydro, biomass, wind, solar and geothermal sources will outpace coal in April and May, 2019. This is the first time that’s happened since the agency began tracking coal and renewables in 1973. The report says renewables will generate 2,322 gigawatt-hours a day in April and 2,271 GWh per day in May. This is compared with 1,997 GWh per day from coal in April and 2,239 GWh per day in May.
EIA is slated to firm up its projections in June, when power plants submit responses to a formal federal survey about their electricity production. Tyler Hodge, EIA’s lead electricity market analyst, expressed confidence in the projections.

“Everything we’re showing indicates total renewable including hydroelectric generation likely did exceed coal generation in April, at least,” he a blog last week. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis called the development “momentous” for renewables.

“The future of the U.S. electricity generation industry may have arrived, and it is not good news for struggling coal-fired generating plants,” editor Dennis Wamsted wrote. Hodge said renewables’ advantage in April was partially amplified by increased hydropower output in the Northwest, coal plants being down for spring maintenance and booming spring wind output. But he also said the trend is likely to continue given the overall drop in coal generation and increase in renewables, namely wind.

“It’s definitely reflective of a longer-term trend of increased renewables and lower coal generation, but since there’s such a strong seasonality in both types of generation, it’s likely just a temporary crossing-over point,” he said. “You probably won’t see total renewables surpass coal annually for a number of years.”

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