Renewable energy production in the U.S. has surpassed coal for the first time in the country’s history, the latest figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show.
Twenty-three percent of the American electricity in April came from sources like wind and solar energy, whereas 20 percent came from coal-fired generation, said the agency.
“Record generation from wind and near-record generation from solar contributed to the overall rise in renewable electricity generation this spring,” EIA said on its website.
Most of the renewable generation comes from wind power and hydroelectricity. Coal’s decline comes from market forces, say experts, despite President Donald Trump’s efforts to save the industry, which he blames his predecessor of damaging.
Many utilities have announced their intention to cease their reliance on coal and close coal-fired power plants at some time between 2030 and 2050. Some retailers, including Target, have likewise decided to switch to renewable energy to power their stores.
In some places, the state itself is making efforts to force utilities to use renewable energy sources. Hawaii, California and New York have made the pledge to reach 100 percent clean energy by as soon as 2040.
Doug Vine, a senior energy fellow with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions explained the various factors needed for clean energy sources to be used. For instance, spring tends to see the most amount of water due to the melting of the snow, making hydropower a viable source in that season.
Natural gas has seen an increase in use as well, but Vine warns that a month is too short of a period of time to draw conclusions that coal is dead. However, he stresses, “it is pointing to a trend we’ve been seeing going on for some time that is the general decline in coal and the significant increase in wind and solar deployment.”