In a first for the U.S. power sector, wind and solar have generated more electricity than coal so far this year.
In the first five months of 2023, wind and solar produced 252 terawatt-hours, while coal produced 249 terawatt-hours, according to preliminary government figures reviewed by E&E News.
This shift in the U.S. power mix is being driven less by the ascendance of renewables than by the hasty decline of coal generation, which is down 27 percent from the same period last year. Coal typically gets a boost in the cold months, when heating drives up power use, but this year’s mild winter saw a lull in demand.
Over the longer term, coal is losing ground to cheaper wind, solar, and natural gas, a trend that is forcing many older plants into retirement. “From a coal perspective, it has been a disaster,” Andy Blumenfeld, an industry analyst at McCloskey by OPIS, told E&E. “The decline is happening faster than anyone anticipated.”