Renewable Energy Overtakes coal in the United States

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Andrew97
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https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/r...e-us-8fwbp0r6h


As ever, with pay walled articles I will provide a bullet pointed summary below.


  • For the first time on record the United States is set to generate more electricity this year from renewable energy than by coal, with coal prodcuing around 19%. With reports showing that even with a modest rebound for coal next year and Trump's efforts to resusitate the coal industry renewable enrrgy will still overtake
  • The changes are partly down the the Corona pandemic but also due to longer terms changes shaping American Energy consumption, a decade ago coal nearly provided half of the nations electricty, energt has become cleaner both due to price and enviromental concerns
  • Solar costs, for example, have fallen by more than 80% since 2010 and the cost of building large wind farms 40%, natural gas is also at all time lows due to a fracking boom
  • Coal with be 19%, Renewables at 20%, Nuclear 21% and Natural Gas at 40%.
  • Dams, wind farms and solar panels have produced more electrcity than coal on 90 seperate days this year, smashing the 38 days of 2019.
  • However, demand for electricity has dropped 5% as businesses are shut down, with the high operating costing coal plants likely to be worse off
  • U.S Carbon Dioxide emmissions have dropped 15% since 2005, and the EIA has predicted overall emissions will drop 11% this year
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Smack
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Cheap natural gas is a bigger threat to coal than renewables, as CCGT plants can directly replace coal plants. Obviously the article is factually correct, but it gives the impression that renewables (typically taken to mean wind and solar) are a direct substitution for coal, but that only works when there's sufficient wind or sun. You still need a reliable method of generation for when it's overcast, or dark, or still, and what we've got at the moment are coal, gas and nuclear.
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Napp
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(Original post by Smack)
Cheap natural gas is a bigger threat to coal than renewables, as CCGT plants can directly replace coal plants. Obviously the article is factually correct, but it gives the impression that renewables (typically taken to mean wind and solar) are a direct substitution for coal, but that only works when there's sufficient wind or sun. You still need a reliable method of generation for when it's overcast, or dark, or still, and what we've got at the moment are coal, gas and nuclear.
Nevermind the rather salient issue that both forms are rather inefficient compared to coal, solar power in particular not being particularly good.
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Just my opinion
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Alex Epstein on the moral case for fossil fuels

https://youtu.be/Ip3XoAKRKHs
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Napp
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(Original post by Just my opinion)
Alex Epstein on the moral case for fossil fuels

https://youtu.be/Ip3XoAKRKHs
I don't suppose there's an abridged version is there?
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Smack
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(Original post by Napp)
Nevermind the rather salient issue that both forms are rather inefficient compared to coal, solar power in particular not being particularly good.
I actually think there could be a reasonable case for solar in sunnier climates, such as the sunbelt states of America and the Middle East.

The problem with solar in the UK (and similar locations) is that its peak output is in a sunny spring or summer afternoon, which coincides with our electricity demand typically being at its lowest. However, in warmer and sunnier climates, where they typically run aircon all day, peak solar output might sync up with high AC demand.
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nexttime
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(Original post by Smack)
Cheap natural gas is a bigger threat to coal than renewables, as CCGT plants can directly replace coal plants. Obviously the article is factually correct, but it gives the impression that renewables (typically taken to mean wind and solar) are a direct substitution for coal, but that only works when there's sufficient wind or sun. You still need a reliable method of generation for when it's overcast, or dark, or still, and what we've got at the moment are coal, gas and nuclear.
Or hydro dams, including projects like Electric Mountain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinorwig_Power_Station
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Jammy Duel
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These things are always a little disingenuous because they take all forms of renewables to go up against a single fossil fuel, the best ones are when they include nuclear in renewables to try to manipulate the figures
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Napp
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(Original post by Smack)
I actually think there could be a reasonable case for solar in sunnier climates, such as the sunbelt states of America and the Middle East.

The problem with solar in the UK (and similar locations) is that its peak output is in a sunny spring or summer afternoon, which coincides with our electricity demand typically being at its lowest. However, in warmer and sunnier climates, where they typically run aircon all day, peak solar output might sync up with high AC demand.
Indeed, very well put.
It was interesting hearing someones theory on turning large swathes of the equator into giant solar farms due to their lack of a winter season. I can't imagine the Europeans or Americans would be overly happy about being dependent on energy transit through some of those countries though :lol:
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Broque_
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Wouldn't nuclear energy be a very viable approach for countries which can't have consistent power production from solar or wind farms? It's become a lot safer since chernobyl days provides a constant and reliable source of energy while having little to no carbon production. I'm not the most educated on this but I don't understand why governments are so hesitant on expanding nuclear energy sources.
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nexttime
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(Original post by Napp)
Indeed, very well put.
It was interesting hearing someones theory on turning large swathes of the equator into giant solar farms due to their lack of a winter season. I can't imagine the Europeans or Americans would be overly happy about being dependent on energy transit through some of those countries though :lol:
At least those countries could have their energy coming from solar though, which is far from the case currently!

I do think that a significant proportion, perhaps the majority, of our international aid should go to this purpose. Certainly when the UK is giving aid to rapidly developing countries like India, it would make sense if it was funding clean energy production, rather than encouraging dependence in anything else.

Problem as ever is corruption and lack of technical expertise for infrastructure maintenance though.
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nexttime
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(Original post by Broque_)
Wouldn't nuclear energy be a very viable approach for countries which can't have consistent power production from solar or wind farms? It's become a lot safer since chernobyl days provides a constant and reliable source of energy while having little to no carbon production. I'm not the most educated on this but I don't understand why governments are so hesitant on expanding nuclear energy sources.
Cost largely I think, including cost of safely and ethically disposing of highly radioactive waste.
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Napp
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(Original post by nexttime)
At least those countries could have their energy coming from solar though, which is far from the case currently!

I do think that a significant proportion, perhaps the majority, of our international aid should go to this purpose. Certainly when the UK is giving aid to rapidly developing countries like India, it would make sense if it was funding clean energy production, rather than encouraging dependence in anything else.

Problem as ever is corruption and lack of technical expertise for infrastructure maintenance though.
Indeed. Although, with that being said, as far as renewables go i have yet to be completely convinced by it.
Aside from the issue of whether the sun shines or not (not such an issue there granted) its a fairly inefficient means of power production, if memory serves we'd have to cover (more or less) the entire earth to be able to meet our current global needs? Never mind they wear out quickly and arent especially 'green' in their production.
With that being said, i do agree with the broader point but i feel there are somewhat better means of achieving it from sources such as hydro.
Ha there is that.
Fun fact i came across the other day, the US spends more on subsidising peanut production than it does on research into fusion power - the holy grail of 'green' energy :lol: Something that bodes ill for the poorer countries efforts.
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nexttime
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(Original post by Napp)
... if memory serves we'd have to cover (more or less) the entire earth to be able to meet our current global needs? Never mind they wear out quickly and arent especially 'green' in their production.
I suspect that that is a complicated question involving trying to project the future's worldwide energy needs (and hence probably having to model efficiency gains in future solar cells too) but this website reckons it'd be about the size of Spain. I suspect that covering every roof would, therefore, be more than adequate. https://landartgenerator.org/blagi/archives/127

Solar cells were starting to get really cheap, and large scale production in China would have slashed prices further. Unfortunately, Trump both cut almost all solar power research funding so that he could subsidise coal, and started a trade war with China, so that went well.
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Napp
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(Original post by nexttime)
I suspect that that is a complicated question involving trying to project the future's worldwide energy needs (and hence probably having to model efficiency gains in future solar cells too) but this website reckons it'd be about the size of Spain. I suspect that covering every roof would, therefore, be more than adequate. https://landartgenerator.org/blagi/archives/127

Solar cells were starting to get really cheap, and large scale production in China would have slashed prices further. Unfortunately, Trump both cut almost all solar power research funding so that he could subsidise coal, and started a trade war with China, so that went well.
could well be right, my memory on the books contents is getting a bit flaky With that being said, the authors in 'the future of fusion' do make a rather good case why the use of solar for large scale power generation, outside of being a component in a broad strategy, is somewhat flawed.

Ah yes the wrecking ball in chief :lol: I'm still trying to get my head around why he has such a chub on for such a (relatively) useless fuel. Even out of the other fossil fuels its considered substandard after all.
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Smack
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(Original post by nexttime)
Or hydro dams, including projects like Electric Mountain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinorwig_Power_Station
Yes, there's hydroelectric too. The reason I didn't include that in my list though is because it pretty much all of the available sites for dams in the developed world have already been ... developed, so we're not going to be turning to hydro to reduce our reliance on coal (although if hypothetically available, could be used in that regard, unlike wind or solar).

I'd also like to add that Dinorwig that you reference is an energy storage scheme rather than a plant that has a net generation capacity.

(Original post by Napp)
Indeed, very well put.
It was interesting hearing someones theory on turning large swathes of the equator into giant solar farms due to their lack of a winter season. I can't imagine the Europeans or Americans would be overly happy about being dependent on energy transit through some of those countries though :lol:
In addition to the problem of significant power losses across the transmission lines, it'd also suffer from one of the same key problems of solar in the UK: its power output would be minimal when our demand is at its maximum, because it would also be dark there when we all put on the kettle and the telly on a January evening. So we'd already need enough capacity in place to deal with that, rending sub-Saharan solar pointless.
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nexttime
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(Original post by Smack)
Yes, there's hydroelectric too. The reason I didn't include that in my list though is because it pretty much all of the available sites for dams in the developed world have already been ... developed, so we're not going to be turning to hydro to reduce our reliance on coal (although if hypothetically available, could be used in that regard, unlike wind or solar).

I'd also like to add that Dinorwig that you reference is an energy storage scheme rather than a plant that has a net generation capacity.
I'm pretty sure that worldwide there is plenty more to come from hydro if we want it...

But that was not my point. You were saying that the only way we can every get quick on-demand energy is using fossil fuels. That is not true. You can use energy storage schemes like Dinorwig.
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Smack
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(Original post by nexttime)
I'm pretty sure that worldwide there is plenty more to come from hydro if we want it...
Possibly. I don't follow dam projects so I don't have any numbers available, although last time I looked (albeit not in any depth) it wasn't something there was significant investment in, which makes me suspect that either there aren't many potential sites left, or they currently aren't economical. Happy to be proven wrong though if you have other information.

But that was not my point. You were saying that the only way we can every get quick on-demand energy is using fossil fuels. That is not true. You can use energy storage schemes like Dinorwig.
Energy store schemes (whether pumped hydro, batteries, etc.) are not on-demand because do not generate their own electricity and require a prior surplus of it. My original point was that we can't get rid of sources like coal, gas or nuclear despite having increased renewable capacity because renewables don't always generate. We need enough available capacity to cover for when the wind doesn't blow in the winter for a week.
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