Coal prices are on the rise in the United States. The vast majority of coal production now costs more than wind and solar energy. Unless the price of coal production drops quickly, experts believe the fossil fuel will be replaced in the near future.
“Even without major policy shift, we will continue to see coal retire pretty rapidly,” said Mike O’Boyle, who authored a new study for Energy Innovation on the rising costs of coal. “Our analysis shows that we can move a lot faster to replace coal with wind and solar.”
The new study examined financial data obtained from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) to determine how much it costs to produce coal in the United States.
According to The Guardian, the researchers discovered that over two-thirds of coal produced in the United States is more costly than solar and wind alternatives. This includes the cost of building solar panels and wind turbines and maintaining them.
If the cost of coal continues to rise, the fuel will no longer be a viable option for energy over the next five to six years. Americans across the country will be able to save money by replacing their coal energy with wind or solar power. The scientists leading the study already knew that coal prices have gone up, but they did not expect it to be so widespread.
There are several reasons why coal prices have skyrocketed in recent years. The two biggest causes are maintenance bills and the cost of retrofitting factories to comply with new pollution laws. While coal prices are on the rise, wind and solar energies have actually decreased in cost as technology improves. Coupled with an increase in demand for natural gas, renewable energy is killing the coal industry.
Renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar power, now make up about 17 percent of electrical production in the United States. Although coal is clearly on its way out, the Trump administration has been advocating for it, which has only slowed its demise.
Financial institutions have also kept coal alive by handing out around $1.9 trillion dollars in loans over the past four years. But if coal prices continue their current trend, the industry is doomed to be replaced by more affordable, cleaner energy alternatives.
Via The Guardian
Image via Lucas Faria / U.S. Department of Energy