Renewable Now Majority Source

Oct 28, 2016  | 2 min  | Ep4210

The shift away from fossil fuels has hit an important landmark, and now represents a majority of the installed global electrical generating capacity.

A report released this week by the International Energy Agency, or IEA, suggests the global move towards renewables is happening faster than expected.

Capacity is the key to the energy equation. According to IEA data, due to the variability of renewable power sources like sunshine and wind, energy produced by coal fired facilities can exceed production from renewables by up to 40 percent. Coal plants operate at an average of 60 percent of their production capacity, while wind plants pump out only 35 percent of their potential and solar panels provide only 20 percent of their rated output.

However, the construction of renewable power sources are rapidly scaling up, and the main reason is cost. IEA statistics show solar and wind generation is consistently cheaper per kilowatt hour than coal or natural gas. Uncertainty surrounding the potential for carbon taxes charged on the consumption of fossil fuels also is pushing utilities towards renewables, despite their production drawbacks.

And the installation of more clean capacity faces an uncertain political future. Several other renewable energy sources lost valuable tax-credit privileges during the previous Congressional season. In exchange for lifting the ban on exporting American crude oil, an extension of tax credits was approved, but only for solar and wind projects. Tax credits for other renewable sources, such as hydropower, geothermal and biomass will run out at the end of the year unless renewed by Congress when it returns after the November elections.

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