Wind & Solar Power Now Provide More Electricity Than Coal In USA — Charts

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There’s a funny misconception hanging around that coal provides almost all of the electricity for the USA, or at least most of it. Those who love to hate on electric vehicles are fond of saying that EVs are powered by coal. A decade or two ago, yes, that was much more likely to be the case. Today, coal has shrunk enormously as a US electricity source, and it doesn’t even provide as much as solar and wind power together — at least, not in recent months.

In October, 6% of US electricity came from solar power and 10.8% came from wind. So, together, we got 16.8% of our electricity from solar and wind. By contrast, coal provided just 15.2% of the country’s electricity. This is a crossover from last year in the same month — 15.6% of electricity had come from wind and solar while 17% of electricity had come from coal. And it’s an even more dramatic departure from October 2021 — 14% of electricity had come from wind and solar while 19.3% of electricity had come from coal.

If we look at January–October, coal just slightly edges out wind and solar power — 15.9% of US electricity came from coal while 15.6% came from wind and solar combined. Again, though, the trend is clear — in January–October 2022, the split was 19.5% for coal and 14.9% for wind and solar; in January–October 2021, the split was 22.3% for coal and 12.7% for wind and solar. You can see how fast things are changing.

What about if we look at renewables as a whole?

Naturally, combining all renewables, they do significantly better than coal. Together, renewable energy sources accounted for 23.7% of electricity in October, compared to 15.2% from coal. That’s an improvement from 21% from renewables in October 2021 and 19.3% from coal. However, let’s be honest, if combining all renewables, we should combine all fossil fuels, and that still shows how dirty our electricity grid is. “Natural gas” (aka fossil gas) accounted fro a whopping 42% of US electricity in October. Combined with coal, that would be 57.2% of electricity. The figure would be 42.6% for all fossil fuels combined.

Looking at January–October, the difference is a little tighter. Renewables equaled 22.8% of electricity production, while coal equaled 15.9%. Okay, well, that’s not a competition. But neither is a comparison between renewable energy resources and fossil fuels. That is up from 20.4% for renewables and 22.3% from coal.

You can view interactive versions of these charts below. Note that they look and operate much better on a normal computer rather than a smartphone.

Stay tuned for more electricity reports on CleanTechnica soon.


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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