Central carbon. Image: Airphoto.gr Shutterstock

About 75% of coal-fired electricity generation in America is now more expensive than that of renewables. This trend is spreading around the world.

The US coal industry will be isolated from the energy market by 2025.

Where environmental policies have not arrived, the economy has arrived: American coal no longer stands up to competition from renewable sources and natural gas.

Despite the supportive policies put in place by President Donald Trump, the industry is struggling to move forward. According to a recent report by Energy innovation, today close to three quarters of coal-fired power generation is more expensive than wind and solar power for American households. And in most cases, the difference can be up to 25%.

Even without major political changes, we will continue to see a rapid withdrawal from coal. Our analysis shows that we can act much faster to replace it with wind and solar power. By 2025, the picture is even clearer: almost the entire American coal system will be at a disadvantage compared to new renewables, with high financial risks associated with operating costs.

Mike O’Boyle, study co-author.

The reason for this rapid development should not lie solely in the greater technological convenience of wind, solar or gas energy. The price of coal has increased steadily in recent years.

Part of this is because we are forcing the coal industry to pay its real costs, mainly air pollution, but also pollution of water resources and other factors that contribute to environmental degradation.

Justin Guay, Director of Global Climate Strategy for the Sunrise Foundation at The Revelator.

Coal-fired power station. Image: Jeff Zehnder Shutterstock

The trend has taken hold around the world, but experts warn getting rid of this fossil fuel won’t be so easy. GlobalData predicts annual production increases in India, Indonesia and Australia of 10.9%, 3.9% and 2.3%, respectively. This despite global consumption peaked in 2014 and has declined slightly since then.

What is certain is that if we look at the global model published by Carbon Tracker, 42% of existing coal plants in the world are now in deficit.

By 2030, 56% of all factories in the world – China, India, everywhere – will have negative cash flow. It is quite difficult to maintain market share or even grow if you are more expensive than your competition.

Justin Cool.

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