May 14, 2020 - Energy & Environment

U.S. renewable energy on track to surpass coal in 2020

A wind farm in Iowa. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Renewable energy production in the United States is set to overtake coal in 2020 for the first time, according to new projections from the Energy Information Administration.

Why it matters: Coal was historically the dominant source of electricity for the country, and renewable energy's rise comes despite the Trump administration’s attempts to revive the coal industry by pollution and coal-burning power plant regulations, per the New York Times.

The big picture, via Axios' Ben Geman: The inflection point shows how the pandemic is accelerating trends underway for years in U.S. power markets as natural gas and increasingly low-cost renewables shove aside coal, once the nation’s dominant electricity source.

By the numbers: Because the coronavirus pandemic has depressed electricity demand and natural gas prices, coal plants are expected to produce only 19% of the nation’s electricity, declining by around 25%.

  • The EIA projects that renewable energy will grow around 11% and that overall electricity generation will fall by 5% this year.

Yes, but: The agency expects coal consumption to rebound by 10% in 2021 because of stronger natural gas prices and increased electricity demand.

  • It also noted that the projections are subject to a high degree of uncertainty because of the pandemic.

The bottom line: The agency also expects America’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to decrease by 11%, the largest drop in at least 70 years, according to NYT.

Go deeper: Coronavirus accelerates coal's decline

Go deeper

Biden formally secures Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University's student cente on June 5. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the formal Democratic presidential nominee on Friday evening, per AP.

The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 6,724.516 — Total deaths: 394,018 — Total recoveries — 2,996,832Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,894,753 — Total deaths: 109,042 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: WHCA president says White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop" — Jailing practices contribute to spread.
  4. Sports: How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.
  6. Media: The Athletic lays off 8% of staff, implements company-wide pay cut.

Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.