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article imageRenewable energy will outperform coal in April and May in U.S.

By Karen Graham     Apr 29, 2019 in Environment
The future of U.S. electricity generation may have arrived, and it is not good news for struggling coal-fired generating plants. This month, for the first time ever, the renewable energy sector is projected to generate more electricity than coal.
The renewable energy sector includes hydro, biomass, wind, solar and geothermal sources. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) Short-Term Energy Outlook, renewable energy will generate 2,322 and 2,271 thousand megawatt-hours (MWh/day) per day in April and May, respectively.
This will top coal’s expected output of 1,997 and 2,239 thousand MWh/day during the same two months. The forecast and projections are based on the U.S. having about 240 gigawatts (GW) of still-operating coal-fired capacity.
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EIA
To be fair, as the EIA points out, there are seasonal considerations to take into account. Keep in mind that it has been the practice to take coal plants offline during the lower demand periods of the spring and fall to perform maintenance and upgrades, while spring seems to be a peak time for hydropower.
However, even with taking seasonal adjustments into account, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), in its analysis of the EIA report says this projected forecast is still momentous, given the increasing transition to renewables underway in the electric generation arena.
The IEEFA is forecasting that renewable output will begin outpacing coal more and more frequently, just like natural gas-fired generation exceeded coal-fired generation not too long ago.
The Brazos Wind Farm  also known as the Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm  near Fluvanna  Texas. Note ...
The Brazos Wind Farm, also known as the Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm, near Fluvanna, Texas. Note cattle grazing beneath the turbines.
Leaflet (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The battle between natural gas and coal for domination in energy generation began in April 2015. From that time through early 2018, the two major fossil fuels went back-and-forth in holding a major market share. After January 2018, natural gas took the lead and has remained at the top in electrical generation ever since.
It is actually not necessary to say that the trend will continue as coal generation continues to drop. The EIA expects that coal production will continue to fall in the forecast as both domestic consumption and exports, which reached a five-year high in 2018, are forecast to decline.
PV Magazine is even more optimistic in its projections about renewables. While agreeing it will still take a few years for renewables to entire eclipse coal in the U.S. fleet, they also point out it is just a matter of time before renewables begin to overtake gas-fired capacity.
More about IEEFA, Renewable energy, Coal, april and may, new future in energy
 
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