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Why Solar, Wind and Hydropower can outclass Coal Energy?

Posted on Dec. 16, 2019 by Sanghamitra Sinha

Coal energy might be the cheapest, versatile and abundant form of natural resource (fossil fuels), but it would soon get toppled by renewable energy such as solar and wind. Yes for the first time ever, the United States is likely to get powered by the renowned renewable energies in 2021. The decade between 2000-2010 saw a majority of America’s homes being ushered with coal energy utilization. For light years, coal has been the cornerstone of the power industry, but later certain environmental concerns combined with aging plants and combination have resulted in the decline of coal usage in the united states.

"The next piece of the energy transition is very close at hand," PJ Deschenes, partner at Greentech Capital Advisors, an investment bank focused on clean energy.

According to the International Energy Agency, some of the countries has lately invested in renewable energy resources more than it did in fossil fuels. Although president Trump strived hard to save coal but we got to witness only a perpetual downfall of the industry. Good news is that, US power companies are now in a tandem to swiftly replace their former coal which once earned them huge fortunes, with wind and solar farms. The names of renowned utility companies like PSEG (PEG) and Xcel Energy (XEL) are now all competing to deliver carbon-free electricity. The present condition of some of the largest coal-fired power plants seem to be really abject. Navajo Generation Station, largest coal-fired plant of the West, experienced a permanent shut down last week. This implies that South Nevada’s electricity will now be coal-free. EIA reported that, US power plants are expected to leverage from sources of renewable energy like wind and solar, more than coal energy ever since 1978. The process is said to bring down coal’s market share by 22% as compared to the 28% in 2018. This shrinkage in market share will degrade the current value of the coal plants and make it even less profitable. As said by Greentech's Deschenes "It's a negative feedback loop,". It is indeed recorded that the future of coal at the global level too, is really padlocked. For instance, the global electricity production from coal is on track to fall by 3% in 2019, with some remarkable record rebuff from Germany, South Korea and India.

Dennis Wamsted, an editor and analyst at IEEFA, predicted that 2021 will be the crossover year in the United States where the previously acclaimed coal energy will get upholstered with renewables like solar, wind, hydropower, biomass and geothermal. Wamsted also added that coal and renewables are rapidly heading in opposite directions. If his predictions of the crossover does not take place by 2021, it would definitely happen by 2022 for sure. The transition has already taken place during the first half of the year, in Texas, which was for long a coal-loving state. Despite the critics of renewable energy highlighting assertions such as, “the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow”, the most accountable form of renewable energies has already out-competed their erstwhile elixir. Also, coal power has lately placed itself at the crest of production costs, being 75% more expensive than renewables where coal has successfully outcompeted the industry on cost by 2025.

Did you know where will the world get its next energy fix from? The answer is renewable sources like wind and solar. Yes, experts and officials are deliberately inclining toward the importance of energy storage systems that hold renewable energy for when it's needed. Former United States secretary of energy, Rick Perry had ambitiously led down the foundation of America’s leadership in energy innovation in 2018. Subsequently, he announced up to 105.5 million of monetary grant for solar technologies to get initiated. Another major funding announcement took place shortly, which gave rise to a new round of solar R&D funding totaling 128 million dollars for 75 different projects. The “coal-killing goal “aims to reach a solar power cost target worth 0.05 dollar per kilowatt hour (for residential photovoltaic), around 0.04 million dollar for commercial photovoltaic and 0.03 million dollars for utility-scale. Coal’s share in the overall US power generation market has undergone shrinkage in the recent times too. In Europe, major utility Iberdrola contemplated on replacing coal-fired plants with solar and wind.

"Coal is coming offline as fast as or faster than we anticipated." -- PJ Deschenes, partner at Greentech Capital Advisors, a boutique investment bank focused on clean energy.

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