What’s Going On Here?
Wind power has become cheaper than coal in the United States. In 99% of cases, it now makes better economic sense for the US to build a new solar or wind farm than to keep running an existing coal plant.
What Does This Mean?
Renewable energy has been getting steadily cheaper for a long time. The Biden administration gave it a helping hand last year in the form of the Inflation Reduction Act, a package of tax credits and other support for clean power.
New analysis shows that electricity from an existing coal-fired power plant has a marginal cost of $36 per megawatt hour, while brand new solar in the same region costs about $24 per megawatt hour.
Swapping from coal to renewables could save the US billions. The study suggests this could fund $589 billion in new investment across the US and improved battery storage for electricity generated by wind and solar.
Why Should We Care?
Coal is one of the most polluting ways to power the grid. It accounts for about 60% of greenhouse gas emissions from generating electricity.
Many industries in the US are still reliant on coal, while wind and solar infrastructure aren’t quite ready to take over completely. Plus, there were signs of a coal revival last year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine forced countries to look inwards for sources of secure energy.
But this analysis “challenges the narrative that coal is here to stay,” according to Michelle Solomon, a policy analyst at Energy Innovation, who carried it out. For the US, coal is on its way out.
“This report certainly challenges the narrative that coal is here to stay.”Michelle Solomon, policy analyst at Energy Innovation
If this tasty piece of good news tickled your fancy, there’s more where that came from:
- Read the full report from Energy Innovation
- Find out more about the Inflation Reduction Act
- Read our article about the time the UK went coal-free for two months