Solar and wind power is gradually replacing Coal

Solar and wind power is gradually replacing Coal in Global Electricity

Solar and wind energy are only available part of the time. Solar and wind power as a share of global electricity has doubled since 2015, according to a new report by climate-focused think tank Ember. The role of solar and wind power, their expense, and environmental impact, are very different if they are considered as possible complete replacements for fossil fuels. It now makes up about a tenth of the global power mix, reaching close to the same amount of energy generated by nuclear power plants. In that role, the variability of solar and wind is a nuisance, but not a big problem.

Those carbon-free sources of power are steadily replacing coal. A solar energy plant with a peak capacity of 1 MW (it can produce a maximum of 1 MW of electric power) produces about on average 200 kW or 20% of maximum. Coal generation dropped a record-breaking 8.3 percent in the first half of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. Coal power production is dirty work, with plants requiring regular maintenance and upkeep to meet electricity demands continually. The rise of wind and solar contributed to 30 percent of that drop in coal, according to Ember, while the majority of the decline was due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing down power demand. By switching to solar energy – and even better, doing so on your own property – you can effectively cut out the middle-man with a renewable solution that is cleaner and easier to care for.

“Countries across the world are now on the same path – building wind turbines and solar panels to replace electricity from coal and gas-fired power plants,” Dave Jones, senior electricity analyst at Ember, said in a statement. The UK and EU are in the lead when it comes to how much of their electricity is powered by wind and solar. It now accounts for 42 percent of the power mix in Germany, 33 percent in the UK, and 21 percent across the EU.  Solar photovoltaics and wind energy were already cheaper than electricity from about 60% of coal stations, including about 70% of China’s coal fleet and half of Australia’s plants, it said.

That’s a way the bigger proportion of renewable energy compared to the current top three carbon polluters in the world: China, the US, and India. Wind and solar-powered about a tenth of electricity in China and India. China is now responsible for more than half of all the world’s coal power generation.

The US gets 12 percent of its power from wind and solar. Renewables and nuclear are set to surpass coal as a share of the US electricity mix in 2020, Reuters reports. Renewables will be the fastest-growing source of electricity generation this year, according to a forecast released earlier this week by the US Energy Information Administration. Panels can easily be swapped out, hazards to maintenance workers are non-existent, and less space is needed for the system itself as well as any maintenance equipment

Natural gas, coal, and petroleum all need to be mined or extracted from underground, and the use of these resources for energy generation is much more harmful to the environment. This is all encouraging progress toward cutting down fossil fuel use in order to limit the devastating effects of climate change. But there’s still a long way to go to reach the goal set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement of stopping the planet from heating up more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. To hit that target, coal needs to drop 13 percent every year over the next 10 years, and carbon dioxide emissions need to essentially disappear by 2050.

Solar and wind power is gradually replacing Coal in Global Electricity

Solar and wind energy are only available part of the time. Solar and wind power as a share of global electricity has doubled since 2015, according to a new report by climate-focused think tank Ember. The role of solar and wind power, their expense, and environmental impact, are very different if they are considered as possible complete replacements for fossil fuels. It now makes up about a tenth of the global power mix, reaching close to the same amount of energy generated by nuclear power plants. In that role, the variability of solar and wind is a nuisance, but not a big problem.

Those carbon-free sources of power are steadily replacing coal. A solar energy plant with a peak capacity of 1 MW (it can produce a maximum of 1 MW of electric power) produces about on average 200 kW or 20% of maximum. Coal generation dropped a record-breaking 8.3 percent in the first half of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. Coal power production is dirty work, with plants requiring regular maintenance and upkeep to meet electricity demands continually. The rise of wind and solar contributed to 30 percent of that drop in coal, according to Ember, while the majority of the decline was due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing down power demand. By switching to solar energy – and even better, doing so on your own property – you can effectively cut out the middle-man with a renewable solution that is cleaner and easier to care for.

“Countries across the world are now on the same path – building wind turbines and solar panels to replace electricity from coal and gas-fired power plants,” Dave Jones, senior electricity analyst at Ember, said in a statement. The UK and EU are in the lead when it comes to how much of their electricity is powered by wind and solar. It now accounts for 42 percent of the power mix in Germany, 33 percent in the UK, and 21 percent across the EU.  Solar photovoltaics and wind energy were already cheaper than electricity from about 60% of coal stations, including about 70% of China’s coal fleet and half of Australia’s plants, it said.

That’s a way the bigger proportion of renewable energy compared to the current top three carbon polluters in the world: China, the US, and India. Wind and solar-powered about a tenth of electricity in China and India. China is now responsible for more than half of all the world’s coal power generation.

The US gets 12 percent of its power from wind and solar. Renewables and nuclear are set to surpass coal as a share of the US electricity mix in 2020, Reuters reports. Renewables will be the fastest-growing source of electricity generation this year, according to a forecast released earlier this week by the US Energy Information Administration. Panels can easily be swapped out, hazards to maintenance workers are non-existent, and less space is needed for the system itself as well as any maintenance equipment

Natural gas, coal, and petroleum all need to be mined or extracted from underground, and the use of these resources for energy generation is much more harmful to the environment. This is all encouraging progress toward cutting down fossil fuel use in order to limit the devastating effects of climate change. But there’s still a long way to go to reach the goal set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement of stopping the planet from heating up more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. To hit that target, coal needs to drop 13 percent every year over the next 10 years, and carbon dioxide emissions need to essentially disappear by 2050.