- Data in the U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest Short Term Energy Outlook forecasts renewable energy resources, including hydroelectricity, will generate more electricity in April and May than coal-fired plants.
- According to the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis, this would be the first time renewable generation has surpassed coal. While there are seasonal factors at play, the group said it represents "signs of a tipping point" in the country's generation mix.
- According to the EIA, all renewables will produce 18% of U.S. electricity in 2019, and almost 20% in 2020. The agency also forecasts that wind generation will surpass hydro "to become the leading source of renewable electricity in both years."
There are about 240 GW of coal capacity operating in the United States, so renewable generation's likely April milestone comes with caveats. But IEEFA says the shift still signals an important moment for the United States' energy sector.
"Renewable generation is catching up to coal, and faster than forecast," the group said.
Hydroelectric generation typically peaks in spring, while coal maintenance is also done during this time, the group noted. "That said, this represents a momentous development driven by the deep transition under way in the electric generation arena," IEEFA said in an April 25 blog post.
More than 7 GW of coal-fired generation is scheduled to retire by the end of 2020, EIA said.
EIA also projects that energy-related carbon emissions in the United States will decline 1.6% this year and 1% next year, compared with a 2.7% increase in 2018, in part due to weather fluctuations along with the rising share of electricity generated from natural gas and renewables.
"Coal’s proponents may dismiss these monthly and quarterly ups and downs in generation share as unimportant," IEEFA said, "but we believe they are indicative of the fundamental disruption happening across the electric generation sector."