The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
America Enters 'Coal Cost Crossover' as Solar and Wind Are Now Cheaper for Most Households
By Julia Conley
In propping up the coal industry, the Trump administration is not only contributing to dangerous pollution, fossil fuel emissions and the climate crisis, it is also now clinging to a far more expensive energy production model than renewable energy offers.
That's according to a new report from renewable energy analysis firm Energy Innovation, showing that about three-quarters of power produced by the nation's remaining coal plants is more expensive for American households than renewables including wind, solar and hydro power.
Energy Innovation based its study on companies' financial filings data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). It found that coal has become more expensive as maintenance and anti-pollution compliance costs have risen, while technological advances have made solar and wind power cheaper.
Those trends are expected to continue, and the group predicts that by 2025, 86 percent of coal plants will be producing electricity that is more expensive than renewable energy.
"America has officially entered the 'coal cost crossover' — where existing coal is increasingly more expensive than cleaner alternatives," reads the report.
Climate action advocates applauded the report's findings on social media.
Energy Innovation reported in January that half of all U.S. coal plants have shut down in the last decade, while renewable sources now account for 17 percent of energy production — twice the amount of electricity they provided in 2008.
Monday's study provides the latest evidence that coal production is becoming an increasingly unrealistic method for creating the energy that powers American homes.
"We've seen we are at the 'coal crossover' point in many parts of the country but this is actually more widespread than previously thought," Mike O'Boyle, co-author of the report and electricity policy director for Energy Innovation, told The Guardian. "There is a huge potential for wind and solar to replace coal, while saving people money."
The study calls for a complete drawdown of the use of coal plants in the U.S. But with President Donald Trump intent on putting his environmental policy in the hands of EPA administrator and former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler; deregulating the coal industry to allow plants to pollute nearby waterways and soil; and imposing tariffs on solar panels to stop the renewable sector from replacing the dying industry, states have been the ones leading the way in transitioning from fossil fuels.
California and Hawaii announced plans in recent years to shift to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill Monday to move the state's utilities to sustainably-sourced energy by 2045, while Puerto Rican legislators are planning to vote on the issue this week and a number of cities and towns throughout the country have voted to end their dependence on fossil fuels.
"It would be better if we had a federal cohesive policy because not all states will take the initiative," O'Boyle told The Guardian. "In order to get an affordable, clean energy system we need both federal and state actors involved."
Energy Innovation asserted in its report that replacing failing coal plants with renewable energy projects could be an immediate boon for local economies.
"Any coal plant failing the cost crossover test should be a wake-up call for policymakers and local stakeholders that an opportunity for productive change exists in the immediate vicinity of that plant," reads the report.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
- 100% Renewable Energy Across Europe Is More Cost-Effective ... ›
- 29 Renewable Energy Markets You Need to Watch Out For in 2019 ... ›
- Plunging Prices Mean Building New Renewable Energy Is Cheaper ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
David Gilmour, guitarist, singer and songwriter in the rock band Pink Floyd, set a record last week when he auctioned off 126 guitars and raised $21.5 million for ClientEarth, a non-profit environmental law group dedicated to fighting the global climate crisis, according to CNN.
The Trump administration ratcheted up its open hostility to climate science in a move that may hide essential information from the nation's farmers.
Police have cleared 250 climate activists who stayed overnight at the Garzweiler brown coal mine in western Germany, officials said Sunday.
By Megan Jones and Jennifer Solomon
The #MeToo movement has caused profound shake-ups at organizations across the U.S. in the last two years. So far, however, it has left many unresolved questions about how workplaces can be more inclusive and equitable for women and other diverse groups.
By Tara Lohan
By now it's no secret that plastic waste in our oceans is a global epidemic. When some of it washes ashore — plastic bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers — we get a stark reminder. And lately one part of this problem has been most glaring to volunteers who comb beaches picking up trash: cigarette butts.
Andrea Rodgers, second from the right, takes notes during a hearing in the Juliana v. U.S. case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon on June 4. Colleague Elizabeth Brown sits to her left, while colleague Julia Olson sits on her right, with co-council Philip Gregory on Julia's right. Robin Loznak / Our Children's Trust
By Fran Korten
On June 4, Andrea Rodgers was in the front row of attorneys sitting before a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court. The court session, held in Portland, Oregon, was to determine whether the climate change lawsuit (Juliana v. United States) brought by 21 young plaintiffs should be dismissed, as requested by the U.S. government, or go on to trial.