The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Renewables Beat Coal in the U.S. for the First Time This April
That potential is now being realized. The U.S. generated more electricity from renewable sources than from coal for the first time ever this April, The Guardian reported Wednesday.
Data from the Energy Information Administration showed that wind, solar and hydroelectric generated nearly 68.5 million megawatt-hours of power in April, while coal only generated 60 million, Bloomberg News reported. That's 23 percent of total electricity from renewables vs. 20 percent from coal, according to The Guardian.
"The fate of coal has been sealed, the market has spoken," University of Texas energy expert Michael Webber told The Guardian. "The trend is irreversible now, the decline of coal is unstoppable despite Donald Trump's rhetoric."
President Trump had promised to boost coal and, under his watch, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has worked to ease regulations impacting the industry, most recently by replacing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. Even so, at least 50 coal plants have shut since Trump took office in 2017, The Guardian reported.
Coal, which supplied more electricity than any other fuel source a decade ago, has been losing both to natural gas and to wind and solar farms, Bloomberg News reported. Bloomberg NEF estimates that half the world's power could come from clean sources by 2050.
Coal will likely pull ahead of renewable sources again, since some coal plants were down for routine maintenance in April, Bloomberg News noted. The Guardian also reported that there was low energy demand this April, as well as an increase in wind power. A report from Fitch said that coal would surpass renewable energy overall through 2028, but the EIA predicts more months in which the renewable sources will pull ahead.
However, as coal declines, some utilities are shifting to gas, also a fossil fuel. Energy companies are planning to build at least 150 new gas plants and thousands of miles of pipelines in the coming years, The New York Times reported.
"Gas infrastructure that's built today is going to be with us for 30 years," Rice University Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Daniel Cohan told The New York Times. "But if you look at scenarios that take climate change seriously, that say we need to get to net zero emissions by 2050, that's not going to be compatible with gas plants that don't capture their carbon."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
It's become a familiar story with the Trump administration: Scientists write a report that shows the administration's policies will cause environmental damage, then the administration buries the report and fires the scientists.
By Jake Johnson
Calling the global climate crisis both the greatest threat facing the U.S. and the greatest opportunity for transformative change, Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled today a comprehensive Green New Deal proposal that would transition the U.S. economy to 100 percent renewable energy and create 20 million well-paying union jobs over a decade.
The Parties to CITES agreed to list giraffes on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) today at the World Wildlife Conference or CoP18 in Geneva. Such protections will ensure that all giraffe parts trade were legally acquired and not sourced from the poached giraffes trade and will require countries to make non-detriment findings before allowing giraffe exports. The listing will also enable the collection of international trade data for giraffes that might justify greater protections at both CITES and other venues in the future.
The WHO stressed that more research is needed on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion. luchschen / iStock / Getty Images Plus
The UN's health agency on Thursday said that microplastics contained in drinking water posed a "low" risk at their current levels.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) — in its first report on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion — also stressed more research was needed to reassure consumers.