Coal Dropped from 26.9% of US Electricity to 17.7% in 3 Years


Published on September 26th, 2020 |
by Zachary Shahan

September 26th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan 

Large nationwide electricity generation changes take a long time. Power plants don’t typically last a few years — they last decades. So, even if there are dramatic changes in new power plant development (as there are in the US), there’s such a massive fleet of existing power plants that it takes a while for the new trends to influence electricity generation to a notable extent.

With that in mind, it’s especially impressive to see that electricity from coal power plants has declined from 26.9% of US electricity generation in the first 7 months of 2018 to 17.7% of US electricity in the first 7 months of 2020. Furthermore, that’s down from 33% in 2015, 39% in 2014, 45% in 2010, and 50% in 2005.

As you can see, coal’s collapse has come as natural gas and renewables have risen as US electricity generation sources. Natural gas had the biggest rise over this time period, climbing from 33.7% of US electricity generation to 40.1%. Renewables rose from 18.7% to 21.2%.

Solar energy grew from 2.3% in the first 7 months of 2018 to 2.7% in the first 7 months of 2019 to 3.4% in the first 7 months of 2020.

Wind energy grew from 6.8% in the first 7 months of 2018 to 7.3% in the first 7 months of 2019 to 8.5% in the first 7 months of 2020.

Progress is being made, but it still feels painfully and deadly slow. We are seeing some of the horrendous effects of global warming already, but they will get so much worse as we continue burning fossil fuels and expanding the greenhouse blanket across our atmosphere. If you look at the following set of interactive charts, you can see how diminutive solar PV and, to some extent, wind look in contrast to natural gas and even coal. So much dirty electricity generation capacity still needs to be shut down in order to protect people from severe health problems and premature death.

Want to do your part to help? Go solar. Rooftop solar power is cheaper than ever in the US. If you decide to go solar with Tesla, feel free to get an extra $100 off by using my Tesla referral code — Or go with someone else’s. It’s your choice. 


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Tags: us coal, US coal production, US Electricity Generation Reports, us natural gas, us natural gas generation, us nuclear, US nuclear energy, us nuclear power, US renewable Energy, US Solar Energy, US Wind Energy

About the Author

Zachary Shahan is tryin’ to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao.

Zach has long-term investments in NIO [NIO], Tesla [TSLA], and Xpeng [XPEV]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

Read More: Coal Dropped from 26.9% of US Electricity to 17.7% in 3 Years

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