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Amid Pandemic, US Renewable Power Sources Have Topped Coal For 40 Days

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Electricity generated by renewable sources like solar, wind and hydro has exceeded coal-fired power in the United States for a record 40 straight days, according to a report based on U.S. government data released on Monday. The boost for renewables is due to a seasonal increase in low-cost solar and hydro power generation, alongside an overall slump in electricity demand caused by coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. Coal tends to be the first power source to be cut by utilities when demand falls because subsidized renewable sources are cheaper to operate and often backed by state clean-energy mandates.

Every day between March 25 and May 3, solar, wind and hydro plants together produced more electricity than the nation’s coal-fired plants — accounting for about a fifth of the grid’s power, IEEFA said. The longest back-to-back stretch previously was nine days in 2019. In total in 2019, renewables beat coal on just 38 days, IEEFA said. IEEFA added it is possible that renewable energy in the United States could exceed coal on an annual basis for the first time this year, a year earlier than it initially forecast, if the power consumption trends caused by the health crisis continue. The report says overall U.S. electricity consumption is projected to fall 3% this year, with coal-fired power demand falling 20%. Meanwhile, EIA forecasts renewable energy generation will grow 11% because it is dispatched by grid operators whenever it is available because of its low operating cost.

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