For the first time ever, renewable energy sources are expected to produce more electricity than coal in the month of April, CNN reports. The projections from an Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) report suggest that the once- dominant coal, which has already been surpassed by natural gas, will be made further obsolete by solar and wind power.
"Five years ago this never would have been close to happening," said IEEFA analyst Dennis Wamstead in an interview. "The transition that's going on in the electric sector in the United States has been phenomenal."
As recent as 10 years ago, the renewable energy sector in the U.S. was almost insignificant besides companies developing hydro power. But new waves of investors interested in wind and solar power have made these types of energy much more accessible to consumers.
Simultaneously, households, businesses, and state governments in America have increasingly demanded cleaner energy sources as a result of growing concerns about climate change. "Renewables are just a better bet at the moment," Wamstead said.
In the IEEFA report, the researchers mention federal government projections that renewable sources, including solar, geothermal, and biomass, will begin occasionally overtaking coal in 2019 and 2020. This year, in other words, the eco-friendly sources will begin passing coal, at least on a monthly basis.
And while the prospect of more renewable energy than coal power is promising, it could partially be due to seasonal trends. Coal plants often close for maintenance in the springtime because demand for power is relatively lower than in the summer and winter, and hydro and wind power naturally tend to flourish in the spring.