- New data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the United States is continuing to shift away from coal-fired generation, and for the first time ever in April produced more power from natural gas.
- Electric Power Monthly data shows gas-fired plants around the country produced 92,516 Gwh in April, compared with 88,835 Gwh of coal.
- While power from gas burn increased more than 20% year-over-year, the real winner may be solar energy which EIA reported increased almost 60% in the last year.
April was a significant month for the U.S. fuel mix. As SNL Energy points out, it marked the first month – ever – that the United States generated more power from natural gas than coal. Driven by low gas prices and a slew of carbon regulations taking coal plants offline, coal's year-over-year April production declined 18.9%, very similar to gas' 20.6% increase.
Nuclear generation saw a 6% boost, while solar thermal and photovoltaic rose more than 57%.
The federal government's Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, is predicted to take some 90 GW of coal-fired production offline — more than twice the amount expected by 2040 without the new regulations, according to the EIA. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, despite being remanded by the U.S. Supreme Court last month, has already been responsible for a slew of retirements, and has been estimated to account for about 40 GW of the 90 slated to retire by 2040.
While gas has been the beneficiary of late, rising from 76,728 GWh generated in April of last year, solar energy is seeing the largest percentage gains. The U.S. April solar output rose from 1,633 GWh in 2014 to 2,567 GWh this year.
Total renewable generation, on an annual basis, has risen from about 358,000 GWh in 2005 to 540,000 GWh last year.