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US Renewables Are Frequently Overpowering Coal for Days at a Time

May 16, 2020 10:59 PM | Scott Wilson (Administrator)

"Your electric car runs on coal, so you're not reducing carbon emissions at all"

Well, not quite.  In fact, in January 2020, the market share of coal in power generation in the US had dropped to 20%.  There were even 38 days in 2019 when generation from renewables (solar, wind and hydro) exceeded generation from coal1.

January and February 2020 began with a growing proportion of renewable-dominant days, and now, due to the greater cost of operating coal plants compared with fuel-cost-free wind and solar2, made more so by current reduced demand, a big part of March and all of April have been dominated by renewable power.


This was forecast to happen3 sometime in 2021, and to be virtually certain in 2022, but has occurred earlier.

So, the old saw about how "EV's run on coal", just ain't so.  Rest assured, an EV will get cleaner as the grid gets cleaner, and the grid is getting cleaner all the time.

PS: A handy tool to compare the carbon emission of vehicles by zip code can be found at evtool.ucsusa.org

1 https://ieefa.org/ieefa-update-renewables-surpass-coal-in-u-s-power-generation-throughout-the-month-of-april-2020/

2 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/13/climate/coronavirus-coal-electricity-renewables.html

3 https://ieefa.org/ieefa-update-renewable-generation-is-set-to-surpass-coal-in-2021/

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