Graph of the Day: US renewables beat coal in 2019, for first time in 134 years | RenewEconomy

Graph of the Day: US renewables beat coal in 2019, for first time in 134 years

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America’s tumbling coal power consumption was surpassed by renewable energy in 2019, and wind power overtook hydro as the US biggest renewable power source.

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The United States of America’s annual energy consumption from renewable sources exceeded that from coal for the first time since before 1885, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The EIA said on Thursday that the outcome reflected both the continued decline of US coal power generation over the past decade, alongside growth in generation from renewables, mostly from wind and solar.

But – as you can see in the EIA chart below – the decline of coal has been more pronounced. “Compared with 2018, coal consumption in the United States decreased by nearly 15%, and total renewable energy consumption grew by 1%,” the report says.

For the US, the year 2019 marked the sixth consecutive year of decline in coal consumption, to 11.3 quadrillion Btu (British thermal units), the lowest level since 1964. Natural gas power consumption, on the other hand, has significantly increased, the EIA says, working to displace much of the electricity generation from retired coal plants.

Consumption of renewables, meanwhile, grew for the fourth year in a row to a record-high 11.5 quadrillion Btu in 2019 – growth almost entirely attributable to wind and solar.

In the case of wind power,  2019 also marked the year when generation from wind surpassed hydro for the first time and became the most-used source of renewables for electricity generation in the United States on an annual basis.

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