After decades of being America’s leading energy source, coal has become more expensive than renewable energy sources like solar and wind. Approximately 74% of US coal plants could be phased out because of the shrinking prices of new energy sources and this trend is expected through 2025.
This new development leaves no room for excuses on why coal plants should not be shut down. They are now more expensive and have always been more hazardous to the environment, but is it that simple?
Risk To Jobs
While the solar and wind technologies will create thousands if not millions of jobs in the future, it does not mean that everyone who is currently employed at a coal plant will seamlessly transition to a new job. Shutting down a coal plant is much more complex than you would think and requires state regulators to sign off on the idea.
While this is certainly better for the environment, both governments and businesses need to consider the economic ramifications of such a move. Of course, it doesn’t mean it is impossible, what it does mean is more planning is necessary. Remember, switching to solar and wind is now more financially incentivized and if switching can save money, then companies will make the switch.
However, it is important to remember that while humans are willing to take their time, climate change is not going to slow down.
Coal is No Longer Unchallenged
In the past, coal was the undisputed king of energy generation. Other sources like hydro and nuclear could not keep up with the low costs of coal back then, but times are very different now. On top of hydro, nuclear, and coal, we now have wind, solar, and natural gas as the main sources of electricity generation. If we look back in time, in 2008 coal made up 48% of the United States energy generation. By 2020, that number is expected to be 24%, a 50% reduction in the span of 12 years.
It is now not only environmentalists who want coal removed, but also businesses and citizens who want cheaper energy. Renewable sources of energy like solar and wind can provide this energy, the prices are continuing to shrink, and there are no harmful greenhouse gas emissions. When you look at coal, which releases large amounts of CO2 into the air and costs more money, it will clearly be replaced completely in the future.
Timing is Everything
Climate change continues to alter the landscape and weather patterns of our world and the longer it takes for us to react, the harder it will be to reverse the damage. At the same time, rapid change can send the world into chaos if economies collapse over these changes. Thus, there is a very fine line between slow change and rapid change.
However, we are the last generation that will be able to make changes and prevent climate change from destroying humanity.