- Power generation from gas-fired sources produced 138,243 GWh in August, edging ahead of coal generation's 135,430 GWh.
- It is only the third month where gas has generated more power than coal, but all of those months have come this year marking a turn in the shift away from more polluting sources of energy.
- Year-to-date coal still leads the way, producing more than 963,000 GWh compared with gas' 883,614 GWh.
"Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action." - Ian Flemming, Goldfinger.
For the second consecutive month, but only the third time ever, gas generation exceeded coal according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The shift has been recognized for years, but cheap gas and tighter environmental regulations have accelerated the trend. Coal power production is down significantly in the last decade — falling from more than 2 million GWh in 2015 to about 1.6 million GWh last year. In that same period, gas-fired power went from 761,000 GWh to 1.1 million GWh.
To put the figures another way, Argus points out that in 2008 coal generated twice as much power as gas, but last year only produced about 40% more.
Earlier this year, April marked the first time gas generation exceeded coal. Electric Power Monthly data showed gas-fired plants around the country produced 92,516 GWh, compared with 88,835 GWh of coal. Coal regained its top status in May and June, but in July was once again edged out.
While the shift away from coal has been accelerated by emissions restrictions, the falling cost of renewable energy and historically-low natural gas commodity prices were already edging out the fuel. Globally, the International Energy Agency expects that renewable energy from wind, solar, hydropower and other sources will overtake coal to be the globe's largest source of electricity if countries hold up their end of carbon pledges.
If they do, IEA expects renewable power will rise from just over a fifth of global electricity consumption today to nearly a third by 2030.