Renewables will generate more electricity in U.S. than coal — and that's a first!

May 2, 2019, 12:08 p.m.
clean energy solar and wind power
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The renewable energy sector in the United States is projected to generate more energy than coal-fired plants for the month of April, according to a report published by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). This is the first time this has happened, and it may even happen again in May. Renewables include hydro, biomass, wind, solar and geothermal.

The report refers to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) statistics that project renewable energy will "sporadically" top coal this year and again in 2020.

Coal was replaced by natural gas in April 2015 as the most popular source of power in the U.S., according to the IEEFA report.

Some of the renewables' impact, however, is due to seasonal issues. Some coal plants are taken off-line for maintenance in spring and fall when demand is low. Spring also is a peak time for hydro power.

The EIA forecasts that renewable energy will produce 18% of U.S. electricity in 2019 and nearly 20% in 2020. The group expects wind power to surpass hydroelectric as the leading source of renewable energy this year and next.

"Five years ago this never would have been close to happening," Dennis Wamstead, research analyst at IEEFA, tells CNN. "The transition that's going on in the electric sector in the United States has been phenomenal."