It’s Tuesday, April 7, and renewables are generating more electricity than coal.

For the first time ever in the history of the U.S. power grid, renewable energy is beating coal. Wind, solar, and hydropower outperformed coal in the first quarter of 2020, accounting for almost 20 percent of U.S. electricity generation, according to a new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

As recently as 2008, coal was responsible for more than half of the electricity used in the U.S. — but no longer. A growing market for renewables and plummeting gas prices have shunted the most polluting fossil fuel to the side in favor of natural gas and clean energy.

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Renewables topped coal in electricity generation for 47 days of the first three months of 2020, demolishing the previous record from 2019, when renewables beat coal for only 38 days of the entire year.

This trend is likely to continue. Clean energy usually surges during the spring due to lower demand and higher renewable generation, so it’s likely that it will continue to eclipse coal for the entire first six months of 2020. According to the authors of the report, this first quarter provides “a clear indication that the transition [to clean energy] has accelerated.”

Shannon Osaka

Smog clouds

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The Smog

Need-to-know basis

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