Report: Renewables Fast Becoming the Cheaper Energy Source

A new study conducted by Energy Innovation, a renewable analysis firm, has found around three-quarters of coal produced by the USA is now more expensive than its renewable competitors.

Dubbed as the 'coal cost crossover’, energy prices derived from renewables like wind and solar prices are said to be cheaper than 74% of the US coal fleet; suggesting that society could see a mass shutdown of coal mines in the near future.

By 2025, the study projects the entirety of the US coal fleet will be out-matched financially by wind and solar, even when factoring the costs of construction of turbines and solar panels into the equation.

Mike O'Boyle, co-author of the report, told The Guardian he is sure that coal is on its way out. "Even without major policy shift we will continue to see coal retire pretty rapidly," he said.

"Our analysis shows that we can move a lot faster to replace coal with wind and solar. The fact that so much coal could be retired right now shows we are off the pace."

O'Boyle continued to explain that "We've seen we are at the 'coal-crossover' point in many parts of the country but this is actually more widespread than previously thought... There is huge potential for wind and solar to replace coal, while saving people money."

As further research is conducted into the production of renewables, it has allowed for implementation of cheaper manufacturing options that have greater energy outputs. Pairing this with US coal plants suffering recently due to rising maintenance costs and pollution control requirements, has allowed for the improved technology of renewable energy to become a very attractive option for society.

Curtis Morgan, chief executive of Vistra Energy, one of Texas' largest coal plants conceded that coal is "on its way out... more and more plants are being retired." he said. Currently, 17% of the U.S. electricity supply is supplied by renewables.

Politically, this should make it clear to decision-makers the financial and environmental benefits in switching to renewables. California and Hawaii are currently leading the charge into the renewable age with both states committing to 100% renewable energy in the coming years, while lawmakers in New Mexico and Puerto Rico are following suit with environmental policies to be voted on this week.

Author of the report we've mentioned, Mike O'Boyle said that "it would be better if we had a federal cohesive policy because not all states will take the initiative... in order to get an affordable, clean energy system we need both federal and state actors involved."

However, with the Trump administration negating the reports on climate change from scientists, green-lighting numerous new oil and gas drilling operations, and the Liberal’s approval for the Adani coal mine in regional Queensland to begin construction, it seems that more time will be needed to convince governments that renewable energy is the gateway to reducing climate change.

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