Renewables Finally Get the Green Light

Projections are early, but pandemic should finally push green past coal

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its May 2020 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) this week, and it contains big news. Albeit an early projection, the government body found that this year—however permanently tainted—will be the first official year on record where renewable energy sources power more of the American grid than old king coal.

This is “a milestone that seemed all but unthinkable a decade ago, when coal was so dominant that it provided nearly half the nation’s electricity, Brad Plumer of the New York Times reported Wednesday, following the release of EIA’s monthly forecast (also viewable below).

Click to access May20.pdf

File this one under the misnomer “positive” coronavirus news (recoveries, surprising ripple effects, & silver linings) at a time still dominated by the pandemic.

The latest report from the Energy Information Administration estimates that America’s total coal consumption will fall by nearly one-quarter this year, and coal plants are expected to provide just 19 percent of the nation’s electricity, dropping for the first time below both nuclear power and renewable power, a category that includes wind, solar, hydroelectric dams, geothermal and biomass.

Natural gas plants, which supply 38 percent of the nation’s power, are expected to hold their output steady thanks to low fuel prices. In related news, wind power has set another “record”, leading us to analyze the parameters for such a term.

Vestas sets mark for installed capacity in one year period

In Dan Carlin’s history podcast on the First World War, the enthused host goes on an interesting tangent about statistical competitions; specifically how variable superlatives lay claim to corresponding titles for “biggest” artillery barrage in history. Depending on the variable of measurement—most shells used, most shells used over shortest amount of time, weight of shells, etc.—there are at least four different candidates for the title (Battle of the Somme, Verdun, Passchendale, and others). This unlikely parallel provides a perfect scope for headlines in the world of wind energy as it continues to emerge on the global scene in record numbers; and with that, we announce that Danish windpower equipment manufacturer Vestas has set a “new” wind energy installation record.

The company is the world’s first wind turbine manufacturer to install more than 10GW of wind energy capacity in a single year (2019), says Wood Mackenzie. Vestas’ wind energy capacity connected with the grid increased from 1.5GW in 2018 in 35 markets to 11.3GW in 2019.

SGRE (Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy) was second on the global list of companies with highest installations. The firm dominated the 1.9GW UK offshore market and achieved over 1GW of onshore installations in the US and Spain.

GE grew its global dominance by connecting projects in 24 markets, with first-ever turbine installations in Greece, Oman, Jordan, Kazakhstan and Chile reaching 8.7GW. This is a 60% increase on 2018.

Below is a list of the 15 OEMs with the highest capacity of installed wind energy.

“Wind turbine OEMs with exposure to global wind turbine supply chain hubs including China, India and Spain will see a negative market share impact in 2020. This is primarily due to coronavirus,” reiterates Barla.

Click here for more information about the report.


  1. Renewables Officially Pass Coal | Electrical Apparatus Magazine - June 4, 2020

    […] an update to an item from three weeks ago, renewable energy has officially passed coal on the American energy consumption chart for the first […]

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