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Renewables beat coal in the US in April

Power County Wind Farm in Idaho. (Image by U.S. Department of Energy, Flickr).

Preliminary figures from the US Energy Information Administration show that renewables generated more electricity than coal every day during April 2020.

According to Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis researchers, this clean energy stretch began on March 25, when utility-scale solar, wind and hydropower collectively produced more than coal-fired generation and continued for at least 40 straight days through May 3. 

In January, coal’s market share fell below 20% for the first time in many decades and it continued to erode, falling to 18.3% in February and 17.3% in March

“These figures are even more remarkable when compared to 2019’s total of 38 days when renewables beat coal,” IEEFA said in a media statement.

“Last April had a total of 19 days when this happened—the most of any month in 2019—with the longest continuous stretch lasting just nine days.”

According to the Institute, the transition away from coal for electricity generation has accelerated in 2020 due to low gas prices, warmer weather, a significant amount of new renewable capacity connecting to the grid late last year, and more recently, lower power demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“IEEFA had forecasted that power generation from renewables would likely surpass coal-fired generation in 2021, an important milestone in the energy transition that is well underway,” the brief states.

“But in the first quarter of 2020, renewable generation unexpectedly exceeded coal, and with this strong performance continuing in the second quarter, there is an increasing chance that the milestone could occur this year.”

Globally, renewable energy overtook coal as a source of electricity generation for the first time in 2019, according to the International Energy Agency.