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Myth Debunked: Renewables Replacing Dirty Energy

10/26/14

  08:18:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 362 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power

Myth Debunked: Renewables Replacing Dirty Energy

It is sometimes said that renewable energy sources, particularly solar and wind, can never replace fossil fuels.  Turns out, they already are and we have the charts to prove it! (H/T CleanTechnica)

The data comes from the monthly report on electric power supply sources produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, titled Electric Power Monthly, August 2014 (the latest report available).  To be sure, the EPM report is a geek’s delight, consisting of more than 200 pages of tables and graphs. But here is the part that caught our attention - it is a tale of two maps, showing power plants set to retire compared to power plants set to come online over the next year.  Let’s start with the retirees (click on the map for a full-size version)…

Power plants set to retire by August 2015

 

The larger the circle, the bigger the plant’s production capacity, while the color of the circle represents the fuel source.

Nearly all of these retiring plants are fossil-fuel plants, with the overwhelming majority being coal-fired plants (the appropriately gray-colored dots).  Many of those plants are centered around the Appalachian coal fields of West Virginia and Kentucky, with another cluster in Georgia.

That is a lot of capacity that is set to go away - what will take its place?  So glad you asked, check out this map…

New power plants

This map shows a very different picture - lots of solar (sunny yellow dots) coming online in California (and qute a bit in North Carolina!) with lots of wind (green dots) in the center of the country.

Keep in mind that this is only showing utility-scale facilities, so all of that rooftop solar that folks like us are installing on homes and businesses doesn’t factor into this figure.  Those installations are helping to keep the demand for power down, meaning that you can eliminate more sources of power than you are adding and still meet the need.

This is the trend that we need to see - more and more dirty energy sources being retired, replaced by fewer, cleaner power plants.

So the next time someone tries to tell you that renewable energy sources will never replace fossil fuels, show them these maps and tell them, “You know what, they already are.”

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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