Energy & Environment

Renewables top coal in the US for the first time in more than 130 years

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Renewable energy consumption in the U.S. topped coal consumption in 2019, the first time this has occurred in more than 130 years. 

The last time renewable energy was more widely consumed than coal was prior to 1885, when wood was the main source of energy, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The EIA released the new finding on Thursday, adding that coal use has been declining over the past decade while renewable energy has increased. 

Last year, coal consumption fell 15 percent while renewable consumption increased by 1 percent compared to 2018. 

The year 2019 was the sixth consecutive year in which coal consumption dropped.

Electricity generation from coal is one area of usage that has been on the decline, sinking to its lowest level in 42 years. Meanwhile, natural gas consumption in electricity has increased in recent years, according to the EIA. 

And in terms of renewable electricity generation, wind beat out hydro last year for the first time, becoming the most-used renewable energy source for electricity. 

Coal has remained a controversial energy source among environmentalists, as it emits more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than other fuel sources including gasoline and natural gas. 

Tags Climate change mitigation Energy Energy Information Administration Fossil fuel phase-out Renewable energy Renewable energy technology

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