For the first time ever, coal has been unseated as America’s largest source of fuel to generate electricity. As of April 2015, natural gas is now number 1.
A report from SNL Energy shows that 31 percent of America’s electricity was now coming from natural gas. That’s up from just 22 percent in 2010. But even though natural gas has taken the lead, coal is still a formidable force, fulfilling 30 percent of the nation’s electrical energy needs.
The rest of America’s electricity is rounded out with nuclear representing 20 percent (the same as in 2010), renewable at 9 percent (up from 5 percent in 2010) and conventional hydro at 8 percent.
Graphic from SNL
The decline of coal is a promising development, but SNL warns that it could be a seasonal blip, with all sources dipping in a season where there’s less demand:
To some degree, the latest statistics reflect the low-demand season with both fuels showing a big drop from the winter months. April’s power production from gas was down almost 9% from the 101,330 GWh produced from gas in January while coal’s power output in April was down more than 33% from the 132,742 GWh produced from coal in January.
Around the world, many countries are trying to kick the coal habit. But historically it’s just been so damn cheap that it’s been hard to move away from it. While we still have a ways to go in order to transition to more renewables in the US, we’ll take the small wins where we can get them.