US Energy: Renewables on the Rise as Fossil Fuel Use Slumps

World | Renewable Energy

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Despite the best efforts of US President Donald Trump, coal generation in the US fell 2.5 per cent in 2017, according to official data released yesterday that reveals a contrasting jump in renewables use.

Figures released by the US Energy Information document a slump in fossil fuel generation during 2017, with natural gas generation also falling 7.7 per cent on 2016 levels.

At the same time coal accounted for more than half of electric capacity retired from the system last year, with 6.3GW of coal generation capacity mothballed out of a total of 11.2GW that came offline. For the first time in at least a decade, no new coal generation capacity opened.

It follows President Trump’s high profile promises to end the so-called “war on coal” by relaxing environmental regulations and other barriers to fossil fuel growth.

However, it seems his efforts to increase US reliance on fossil fuel power have proved ineffective to date, with the EIA’s data confirming trends detailed in a separate report in January by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) which highlighted the impending retirement of a large fleet of coal-fired power stations and the rapid growth of US wind and solar energy.

According to the EIA, both wind and solar hit record shares in the electricity system, delivering 6.3 per cent and 1.3 per cent of net generation respectively. Wind is expected to overtake hydropower to become the largest source of renewable generation in the US next year, the EIA added.

Overall, net electricity generation was down 1.5 per cent in 2017, compared to 2016 levels.