Americans achieved a key milestone last year in our energy consumption. Coal-based energy use fell 15%, while renewable energy — such as from solar and wind — grew 1%.
The newly-released figures from the Energy Information Administration mean that more energy was consumed from renewable sources than from burning coal.
It’s the first time since 1885 that renewables surpassed coal, although it was expected to happen.
For the last decade, coal use for electricity generation has been in rapid decline with the emergence of cheaper alternatives such as plentiful natural gas and falling costs for solar and wind power. Coal use has declined despite the Trump administration’s efforts to prop up the industry.
Electric utilities are increasingly switching to solar and wind sources. Last year, coal-based energy consumption dropped for the sixth year in a row, and there are indications it’s declined further during the pandemic shutdown.
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