By Benjamin Storrow

Wind generated more electricity nationally than coal on three separate days over the past six weeks, according to an E&E News review of federal data.

Such a milestone would have seemed unthinkable a decade ago, when coal accounted for almost half of U.S. power generation. But the last 10 years have seen coal’s position steadily erode due to a combination of slack electricity demand, mounting concern over climate, and increased competition from natural gas and renewables.

The novel coronavirus only has intensified the industry’s pain. Steve Cicala, a professor who studies power markets at the University of Chicago, reckons that electricity demand is down 8% as a result of the economic lockdowns designed to halt the virus’s spread.

Coal has borne the brunt of that decline. Wind and solar generation has been largely unaffected because they have no fuel costs — meaning that utilities turn to them when available. Natural gas prices, meanwhile, are mired near historic lows. That has left coal as the fuel to be curtailed.

Coal represented 16.4% of U.S. power generation over the last month, down from 22.5% the same time last year, according to the Rhodium Group, an independent research firm. Wind and solar generation, by contrast, rose from 10.7% of generation this time last year to 12.2%.

“I think in a lot of ways it’s just sort of fast-forwarding to the future of our grid,” Cicala said.

Continue Reading at E&E News…

Areas of Focus: Energy Markets
Definition
Energy Markets
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.
Electric Power
Definition
Electric Power
As the electric power system faces new pressures and opportunities, EPIC research is working to identify the mix of policies needed to accelerate the global transition to clean, reliable, affordable...
Renewable Energy
Definition
Renewable Energy
Lower technology costs and supportive public policies are driving an increase in renewable energy in markets around the world. EPIC research is assessing the costs, benefits, and efficiency of policies...
Fossil Fuels
Definition
Fossil Fuels
Under current policies, fossil fuels will play an important role in the energy system for the foreseeable future. EPIC research is exploring the costs and benefits of these fuels as...
COVID-19