Jan 15, 2020

Wind and solar dominate new U.S. power capacity

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Reproduced from EIA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Wind and solar make up more than three-quarters of the electricity capacity coming online in the country this year, new U.S. Energy Information Administration data show. 

Why it matters: These two renewable sources of energy are increasingly becoming cost-competitive, even while government subsidies for them are lessening, compared to traditionally dominant sources, such as natural gas and coal.

Yes, but: This data represents capacity, not actual electricity generated. Because it’s not always windy or sunny, wind and solar have a lower capacity compared to, say, natural gas or nuclear power, which can be turned on and off on demand. 

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Wind and solar would struggle to replace coal-mining jobs

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A global transition is underway from coal to renewable energy, but a corresponding jobs shift is far less certain.

Driving the news: Wind-industry jobs aren’t a “feasible” replacement for local coal-mining jobs in the world’s four biggest coal-producing nations, and although solar is better situated than wind, it would require a massive buildout, a new peer-reviewed report finds.

EIA predicts renewables will become largest U.S. electricity source before 2050

Reproduced from EIA; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Energy Department's data arm is more favorable on renewables' long-term future than it was a year ago, but its central analysis might still be badly underestimating the tech's trajectory.

Driving the news: The Energy Information Administration's Annual Energy Outlook released yesterday shows power from renewables overtaking natural gas as the nation's largest electricity source in about 15 years.

Go deeperArrowJan 30, 2020

Solar Orbiter to offer a new look at our nearest star

Artist's illustration of the Solar Orbiter. Image: NASA/NASA Goddard

A new mission expected to launch to space from Florida on Sunday will give scientists an unprecedented view of the Sun.

Why it matters: Despite decades of studying our closest star, scientists still can't accurately predict our Sun's behavior — when it will eject solar flares, sprout sunspots or how the solar wind works.

Go deeperArrowFeb 4, 2020 - Science