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Wind, Natural Gas, Solar Provide More U.S. Power, Replacing Coal


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One of the advantages of electric cars is that they get cleaner as the emissions associated with generating the electricity to power them decrease.

And the good news for electric-car drivers is that the grids that supply their electricity have been getting cleaner–and will likely continue to do so this year and into the future.

Coal’s share of the electricity-generating load is gradually being eroded by cleaner alternatives.

 

Natural gas is already cheaper than coal and quite abundant, while technological advances and public pressure to cut emissions are allowing wind and solar generation to increase market share.

That’s the trend described in 2015 grid-mix projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

A major highlight of those projections is that 91 percent of an expected 20 gigawatts of new generating capacity will come from wind, solar, and natural gas, according to a Navigant Research blog post.

The EIA anticipates 9.3 GW of new wind generating capacity, 6.3 GW of natural gas, and 2.2 GW of solar.

Meanwhile, no new coal power plants are scheduled to come online this year, while 12.9 GW of coal generation capacity and 1.98 GW of natural gas will be retired.

Extensive use of natural gas helps reduce emissions, but the significant increase in wind generation predicted by the EIA could forecast broader changes.

According to previous EIA estimates, the U.S. is already the world’s largest consumer of natural gas, and could see a 33-percent increase in demand by 2040.

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