Wind Energy Could Blow U.S. Coal Industry Away
It’s not enough to say that fossil fuels have to go or nuclear is hopeless (which are both probably true statements). The question is: What will replace them? Furthermore, how long will it take?
An intriguing headline appeared in CleanTechnica on August 4: Wind Could Replace Coal As US’ Primary Generation Source, New NREL Data Suggests. Wouldn’t that be nice? Is it even possible? (The article originally appeared in The Handleman Post on July 26.)
Though solar energy has become the poster child for renewable energy generally, the strongest player in the game, for now, is wind. Wind leads solar energy in capacity installed as well as output (world solar capacity passed 200 GW this year); and other than a few welcome cases (so far) where PV comes in under 5 cents per kWh, wind is generally cheaper.
It is worth noting that some of the world’s industrial giants have not only taken a keen interest in wind energy but have also taken the lead in sticking turbines in the ground. (Offshore makes up only about 2 percent, to date, as the above chart indicates.) GE and Siemens are on the podium, trailing only Denmark’s Vestas. The big three supplied 98 percent of the U.S. market last year according to the Department of Energy (DOE).
Passing the 400 GW mark this year, world wind capacity already exceeds U.S. coal capacity and will likely pass natural gas power capacity in the U.S. this year. It topped U.S. nuclear capacity many years ago, and has now caught up worldwide.