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  • Henry Cortes

The Roaring Renewable 20’s: How the Rise of Clean Energy Will Impact Coal


If 2019 was the year where clean energy officially emerged from the shadows, consider 2020 the year it soaks up the sun.


Increasingly ambitious state policy combined with fast-falling technology prices could mean record renewable energy installations. Expanding efforts to decarbonize U.S. power supplies and buildings could shutter fossil fuel infrastructure faster than ever.

Headlines, unimaginable years ago, are flooding timelines and publications, such “Existing coal can’t compete against new renewables,” “Solar-plus-storage beat new natural gas generation,” and “13 states and territories committed to 100% clean electricity.”


Renewable energy is no longer a trend, it is a standard. This has resulted in a wide variety of changes for companies and communities, but perhaps none greater for its harsh actualization than the closing of coal plants.


The year 2020 is projected to be another record year for U.S. coal plant retirements, on the heels of 2019 – the second biggest year ever for retirements – when coal fell 18% year-on-year to its lowest level since 1975. In the first two weeks of 2020 alone, we’ve seen the 300th coal plant retirement since 2010.


All this progress toward a 100% clean power grid by 2030 will require sustained advocacy – market forces alone won’t do the job that our planet’s future demands. In 2020, we should expect an acceleration of commitments by states, communities, and utilities to decarbonize their energy supply.


If adopted, and renewable commitments evolve into clean fulfillments, this decade very well could be remembered in history books as the sunset on coal.

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