Despite President Trump’s campaign promise to put coal at the top of his energy agenda, the facts speaks for themselves: America is turning its back on coal and in the US renewable energy is charging ahead.
The latest US Energy Infrastructure Update from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) shows nothing but bad news for coal.
Conversely, the news is good for natural gas and renewable energy like wind and solar power.
Within the next three years FERC anticipates 74 coal power generation units will retire. Combined, they have a massive generative capacity of 20,650 MW.
Just a few years ago, coal accounted for a full 50 per cent of US power generation capacity. As of November 2017 that figure stands at 23.83 per cent.
US renewable energy: wind and solar power forge ahead
Although natural gas has been a strong substitute for coal-fired generators, its influence is on the wane.
Wind is storming ahead: FERC anticipates 465 plant additions totalling 72,526 MW over the next three years.
Solar will also turn in a strong performance – a total of 43,528 MW in generator additions compared to only 2 MW in retirements.
On the downside, solar energy stakeholders are concerned about the looming threat of new tariffs under the Trump administration.
Tariff or no tariff, another potential area of domestic solar growth is concentrated solar power (CSP). This relies on heliostats (specialised mirrors) or troughs to generate heat, rather than creating electricity like household solar PV panels.
Energy Dept continues to champion solar
According to CleanTechnica, the US Department of Energy wants to use CSP to generate steam for food processing steps including pasteurising and blanching.
And despite the President’s backing of coal, the Energy Department is not only promoting large-scale solar for manufacturing. It’s also promoting small-scale solar energy, rooftop solar, for ordinary Americans.
The American appetite for nuclear power also seems to be sated. There will be four additions of nuclear plants by 2020, but six retirements. Installed capacity for nuclear will be only 3,243 MW, according to FERC’s estimate.
These figures show that despite President Trump’s push for coal, the US is joining the rest of the world in realising that the future of power is in renewable energy.