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135-Year-Long Streak Is Over: Renewables Overtake Coal, But Lag Far Behind Oil and Natural Gas

Published by Slashdot on Tue, 02 Jun 2020


An anonymous reader quotes a report from Forbes: Last week the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported something extraordinary. For the first time in 135 years, last year U.S. consumption of renewables surpassed consumption of coal. There are two interrelated reasons for this: The collapse of coal consumption over the past decade, which was fueled by the rise of cheaper alternatives. I have covered the reasons for coal's collapse previously. The short version is that policies to curb carbon emissions were put in place about the same time the shale boom and renewable power revolutions created cheaper, cleaner alternatives to coal. The graphic above shows the surge in renewables that helped collapse coal demand. This surge is better shown by the following graphic, which highlights the three categories of modern renewables that have driven the consumption surge: Wind power, solar power, and biofuels. The report points out that fossil fuels still dominate our energy consumption. "Last year the U.S. consumed 11.3 quadrillion BTUs (quads) of coal and 11.5 quads of renewables," adds Forbes. "But we also consumed 36.7 quads of petroleum and 32.1 quads of natural gas. Each of these categories of fossil fuel consumption was greater than our combined consumption of renewables and coal, which provides a broader perspective on our energy consumption." "In total, the U.S. consumed 80.5 quads of fossil fuels, 11.5 quads of renewables, and 8.5 quads of nuclear power. Renewables represented 11.4% of U.S. energy consumption in 2019, versus 8.1% a decade ago."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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