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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

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 21, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Where U.S. fossil fuel companies are shedding jobs

Data: BW Research; Table: Axios Visuals

Various fossil fuel industries shed a combined 118,000 jobs in the March-July period, per a BW Research analysis.

Why it matters: It's a window onto the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the sector's workers.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired general Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star general Lloyd Austin as his nominee for Defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 25 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.