The San Gorgonio wind farm near Rancho Mirage in California - the falling cost of renewables and gas causing coal to be dislodged as a favored energy source for utilities

Clean Power Generation Overtakes Coal for the First Time in America

Image Credit: TheGuardian.com, The San Gorgonio wind farm near Rancho Mirage in California. Photograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Media

Key Takeaways:

  • Clean power generates 23% of the nation’s energy, with coal at 20%
  • Renewables nationwide produced close to 70 million megawatt-hours of electricity
  • BNEF predicts half the world’s electricity will be produced by renewables by 2050

This April, for the first time ever in America, renewable energy sources generated more electricity than coal. After a decade of steadily falling costs, solar, wind, hydropower and other forms of clean power generation not only emerged at a level cost-competitive with coal—but produced more energy than one of the world’s oldest, most prevalent and  fossil fuels.

Hydro, wind, and solar energy produced close to 70 million megawatt-hours of electricity nationwide, while coal came in with 60 million megawatt-hours (according to the Energy Information Administration). By percentages, renewables generated 23% of the country’s overall energy mix that month, versus 20% produced by coal.

As Bloomberg media noted: “That’s the most clean power the U.S. has ever made—and the least coal it has burned for power in years.” Clearly, the path to 100% renewables just got a little shorter. While cheap natural gas did help to clear make renewables show stronger gains, the fact is that the big picture laid out by Bloomberg New Energy Finance is clear: renewables will generate half the world’s electricity by 2050 (and possibly a much higher amount).

What We’re Reading: “For First Time, Renewables Surpass Coal in U.S. Power Mix” as published in Bloomberg, and “US in energy landmark as renewables produce more electricity than coal” as published in The Guardian

See more what we’re reading