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Tipping Point: In Historic First, US Renewables Made More Electricity Than Coal in April

The sun is shining and the wind is blowing on the U.S. energy grid

Coal has many drawbacks, including being expensive compared to free sunshine and wind. (Photo: franckreporter/Getty Images)

Journalist Avery Thompson of Popular Mechanics reports that in the month of April—and for the first time in U.S. history—the country produced more electricity with renewables than with coal.

Part of the solution to this puzzle is economic. In much of the U.S., Thompson notes, you could actually make more money building and running a wind farm than you could just keeping an existing coal plan open.

Coal has many drawbacks, including being expensive compared to free sunshine and wind. It is a major cause of lung cancer and heart attacks, as well as of deadly mercury poisoning.

In April, renewables produced 2,322 thousand megawatt hours per day. Coal only did 1,997 thousand megawatt hours.

Back in 2010, burning coal provided the world 45 % of its power generation.

In 2018, that figure had drooped to 27 percent.

At the same time, the share of renewables in power generation in the US has grown to 18% (including hydro).

Washington governor and Democratic party candidate for the presidency Jay Insleee and Democratic candidate has pledged to get rid of coal plants entirely by 2030 if he wins the presidency

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Juan Cole

Juan Cole

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His new book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East (Simon and Schuster), will officially be published July 1st. He is also the author of Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East (both Palgrave Macmillan). He has appeared widely on television, radio and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon.com. He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. His weblog on the contemporary Middle East is Informed Comment.

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