The electrical industry is undergoing a major shift from traditional sources of energy like coal and oil to more sustainable options, like renewables, smart grids, and efficiency management systems. Utilities, regulation authorities, and third-party service providers work out the technicalities, but consumers have just as much invested interest in this ongoing national-scale change.
Coal is Heading Out the Door – For Sure
A large part of the electrical industry is saying goodbye to coal-generated energy, the past’s go-to for affordable energy generation.
Coal used to be the most financially-sensible energy source for the United States since we have the biggest reserves of it in the world. In the long run, though, coal is hardly cheap even for coal-rich countries like ours. Carbon dioxide from coal is a major factor for global warming. Coal’s sulfur dioxide emissions also contribute to acid rain as well as particulates that cause health issues like kidney problems, hearing impairment, and infertility.
The market for coal in the United States continues to shrink despite recent government attempts to encourage the use of coal by easing existing clean energy regulations. At least 4 utility giants have declared coal-related bankruptcy since 2015.
IEEFA identifies 3 major causes of coal’s decline in the domestic market:
1. The continued decline in the costs of renewable energy
2. Decreased performance efficiency and increased operational costs of aging coal fleets
3. Use of fracking for natural gas extraction, which made cleaner natural gas more affordable
Renewables Are Poised to Take the Cost Advantage
The renewable energy sector, which struggled at its early stages with multiple issues in availability and development, has officially overtaken coal as a major source of electricity.
This 2019, natural gas and nuclear power are still the top energy sources in the country, but renewables are catching up fast. Solar, wind, and other renewables constituted 23% of distributed energy in May. In comparison, energy from coal provided 20% of the total energy distributed in the same month.
Maintenance and operations costs for renewables were already low, but one big breakthrough for clean energy was the development of cost-effective facilities and machinery for harnessing renewables. A recent analysis by Lazard published by Business Insider found solar power costs are now cheaper than coal. Wind energy, once the infrastructure is set up, is even cheaper than solar power.
Renewables Strengthened by Smart Grids with Storage Capacities
Clean energy’s much-needed boost came not only from a cost advantage. The smart grids’ enhanced battery storage capacity made renewables the choice mainstream source of electricity for distribution. This time-flexible solution makes renewable energy easier to dispatch at a reliable rate, especially during peak hours.
Practically, batteries bring renewables and traditional energy on even ground in terms of reliable performance and demand capacity. Consequently, we can now depend less on coal and other fuels that harm the environment and the public.
2019 Electrical Industry Landscape: The Best Time to Go With the Flow
Lower costs, less pollution, and decreased health hazards – the electrical industry landscape is clearly morphing into a sustainable picture. It will be beneficial for a This is the best time to go with its flow.
If you are an electrical business like USESI, invest in renewable energy systems and increase your savings by participating in energy efficiency programs like demand response. If you are a retail consumer, get familiar with the least costly ways to integrate renewables into your energy mix. Make the most of the electrical industry shift towards sustainable energy this 2019.