A new report on behalf of Energy Innovation, a US-based company producing research on energy and environmental policy has found that renewable energy like wind and solar power could already be cheaper for US consumers than 74% of coal-based energy, and this will increase to 86% by 2025.
Renewables now account for about 17% of energy generation in the USA, but there is huge potential for renewables to replace coal and provide much cleaner zero-emissions energy and save people money at the same time.
The report predicts that coal will begin being phased out more rapidly, as maintenance costs have increased, along with new requirements to fit pollution controls to power stations. The Energy Information Agency (EIA) has found that half of US coal mines have been shut in the last decade.
Lower natural gas prices have also contributed to the decline of coal. When burned, natural gas emits roughly half the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by coal to create the same amount of heat. Since CO2 is the most adundant greenhouse gas in our atmosphere and that scientists now wodely agree that our burning of fuels like coal and gas is contirbuting to climate change, it is vital that CO2 emissions are reduced as soon as possible. Whilst gas delivers undoubted benefits over coal, it can't come close to matching the zero emissions of renewables like wind and solar energy. So the faster we can move to renewables, the better it will be for everyone on the planet.
New plan to shift away from gas revealed in UK
However, that transition may take longer than we would like. Whilst here in the UK, only about 6% of our energy is produced by coal, while 27.5% came from renewables, over 80% of homes still use gas for their hot water and central heating. The UK government has recently announced a ban on gas boilers being fitted to new houses from 2025 onwards, but it is likely to take some time before gas stops being used for heating and hot water in existing homes. Currently, around 14% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions come from homes - mainly from gas boilers.