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Replacing 99% of US coal plants with solar and wind is cheaper than running them

Source: Laura Ockel - Unsplash

According to a recent study, 99% of coal plants in the US are more expensive than renewable energy farms, specifically solar and wind.

Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal

A study by Energy Innovation Policy & Technology LLC Energy Innovation Policy & Technology LLC® is a non-partisan energy and climate policy think tank https://energyinnovation.org/about-us/ found that nearly all coal-fired power plants in the US are more expensive to operate than the cost of replacing them with renewable energy projects. The cost of the cheapest renewable option is at least a third cheaper than the cost of operating the coal plant it would replace.

Economic benefit of $589 billion

All but one of the country’s 210 coal plants are more expensive to operate than new wind or solar. The potential to replace coal with cheap, local clean energy generation creates significant economic benefits, including $589 billion in local capital investment, job creation, and tax revenue.

The savings generated by shifting to local solar could fund the addition of 137 GW of batteries for reliability value.

Plummeting costs of renewables

The U.S. power sector is undergoing a significant transformation, with a significant decline in coal-fired power generation since its peak in 2007. This transition has resulted in a reduction of coal mines, power plants, and workers in the industry. Meanwhile, the growth of utility-scale solar and wind energy has skyrocketed over the same period.

The costs of these renewable energy sources have decreased significantly, with solar costs dropping by 90 percent and wind costs declining by 72 percent. According to Our World In Data the price of solar panels has decreased by 99.6% since 1976.

Source: Our World In Data

This has led to a dramatic increase in the generation of solar and wind power, with an increase of over 18,000 percent and 1,000 percent respectively. The shift towards renewable energy sources is a clear indication of the changing energy landscape and the commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

Barriers to Replacing Coal

However, there are still barriers to replacing coal with clean energy, and policymakers must act to unlock the cost savings and health benefits for coal communities while reducing climate pollution.

For more positive news about renewable energy, check out this BrightVibes article about the Dutch trains that have been 100% powered by wind energy since 2017.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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