APR 01, 2019 2:42 PM PDT

Solar and Wind Energy are now Cheaper than Coal

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

Economic concerns, rather than environmental or regulatory, may be the key factor in replacing coal-generated electricity with renewable, clean energies. A recent analysis conducted by Energy Innovation, a non-partisan firm, revealed that 74% of U.S. coal production is now more expensive than the all-in building and production costs of wind and solar power. 

According to the analysis, this number is expected to rise to 86% by 2025, as the cost of solar and wind energy continue to outcompete coal systems. The cost crossover detailed in the report, titled “The Coal Cost Crossover,” calls to question “regulators and utilities as to why these coal plants should keep running instead of new renewable power plants.” 

In addition to the declining costs of clean-energy competitors, the operating expenses of coal plants are no longer sustainable in many cases. Expenses include maintenance and the installation of pollution controls. Currently, the operational costs of existing plants in North Carolina are 25% more than the cost of building a solar or wind plant. Many plants closed their doors in 2018, and at least 20 plants are expected to close down this year.

The states with the most at-risk coal plants are North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Texas. By 2025, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin are expected to be added to the list of at-risk plants. Unfortunately for many of these regions, coal plants remain a major employer and the closure of plants could have damaging effects on local economies. 

Efforts to revive the coal industry by the Trump Administration may have been “too little, too late,” according to Mike O’Boyle, the director of electricity policy at Energy Innovation. Even with rolled-back emissions regulations and a former coal lobbyist leading the EPA, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that coal-fired power generation dropped to 28% last year (from 48% in 2008). It’s expected to continue to fall to 24% by next year.

On the other hand renewable electricity generation in the U.S. has doubled since 2008, accounting for 17% of electricity generation, according to EIA. This year, large-scale solar power is expected to increase by 10%. Wind power is expected to surpass production levels of hydropower for the first time.

Sources: Energy Innovation, Energy Information Administration, CNN

About the Author
  • Tiffany grew up in Southern California, where she attended San Diego State University. She graduated with a degree in Biology with a marine emphasis, thanks to her love of the ocean and wildlife. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, she now works as a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.
You May Also Like
JUL 14, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Clearance of Southeast Asian Forests is Accelerating
JUL 14, 2021
Clearance of Southeast Asian Forests is Accelerating
For years, researchers have been warning about the environmental consequences of deforestation in Southeast Asia, an are ...
AUG 10, 2021
Plants & Animals
World Lion Day - Lions Under Threat
AUG 10, 2021
World Lion Day - Lions Under Threat
Lions are large charismatic predators that we love to adore. But human-lion conflicts are on the rise as we continue to ...
AUG 11, 2021
Earth & The Environment
"Code Red:" Inside the IPCC's Newest Climate Report
AUG 11, 2021
"Code Red:" Inside the IPCC's Newest Climate Report
On Monday, August 9th, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first of their newest set of cl ...
AUG 12, 2021
Plants & Animals
Why Sunflower Heads Face East
AUG 12, 2021
Why Sunflower Heads Face East
You may have noticed that sunflowers can move their 'heads' or capitula to track the sun as its position changes during ...
AUG 12, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Cultivation Negatively Impacts the Environment
AUG 12, 2021
Cannabis Cultivation Negatively Impacts the Environment
Cannabis cultivation may have several damaging effects on the environment. The corresponding study was published in the& ...
AUG 15, 2021
Plants & Animals
The Killer Instinct of a Dainty Flower is Finally Exposed
AUG 15, 2021
The Killer Instinct of a Dainty Flower is Finally Exposed
The exotic Venus flytrap is a famous carnivorous plant that's easy to identify. But it seems that another carnivorous pl ...
Loading Comments...