Short Note : Renewable Energy
The simple laws of economics threaten to doom the world’s remaining coal power plants. The culprit- renewables.
What is happening?
The rapid and sustained fall in the price of wind and solar costs has put the majority of the world’s coal fleet could be phased out for renewable energy. This will also save customers money as per a report released by the Energy Innovation, a nonpartisan think tank. This research demonstrates how it’s increasingly more expensive to operate existing coal plants than build clean energy alternatives.
What does the report say?
The Energy Innovation report found that in 2018, 211 gigawatts of existing US coal capacity (which is 74% of America’s fleet) was at risk from local wind or solar that could more cheaply churn out just as much electricity.
It may be economically feasible to shut down a coal plant and replace it with wind or solar, doesn’t mean it will happen right away. State regulators must sign off on such decisions. And many power plants will decide to pass the extra costs on to customers.
What about coal?
Coal is still a major employer in parts of the world, making any shutdown potentially damaging to the global economy. Coal was the longtime favorite of the power generation industry before it faced fierce competition last decade from natural gas.
Natural gas is a cleaner burning fossil fuel, but it’s in abundance in the United States thanks to the shale revolution. However, in 2016, natural gas surpassed coal for the first time as America’s leading power source.