Why Coal Plants are Going Out of Business

Coal plants are struggling to keep up with the fast paced changes in the energy sector, despite federal efforts to prop them up.

Coal Doesn’t Make Economic Sense

  • It’s expensive to build and run coal fired plants
    • “In many areas, it is not cost-effective to building a coal plant: Increasingly, building a new solar or wind farm is cheaper than just operating an existing coal plant.”
    • The average coal fired plant in America is 43 years old, meaning they require lots of maintenance and run less efficiently.
  • It’s important to acknowledge the decline, and to plan how we want our power grid and economy to develop.
    • A town in Montana had proposed to purchase a struggling coal plant a few years back, fearing what it going under might do to the economy.

Can We Use Decommissioned Plants?

  • Coal plants suddenly shutting down could cost jobs, and burning coal causes contamination at the old sites.
    • There have been some creative solutions – to avoid losing around 1,600 jobs, Acme Equities LLC purchased an old coal plant in New Mexico that was about to shut down for $1.
      • They plan to keep the plant running, but install carbon capture technology and sell off the CO2 as an additional revenue stream.
    • A coal plant in Germany was faced with a similar issue.
      • They’re investigating turning the old plant into molten salt storage unit – basically a huge battery that would preserve the coal plant jobs and also add storage capacity for renewable energy.

What’s Taking Coal’s Place?

  • There are several drivers of coal’s decline. Although GDP is up, energy usage has remained fairly flat due to efficiency increases.

Cheap natural gas and explosive additions to our solar and wind capacity are a more economically feasible way to meet our current energy demands.

You can help Fight Climate Change by joining a Community Solar Farm.

LEARN MORE

Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE PHONE CONSULTATION

Fighting Climate Change for Kids’ Sake

We’ve Left it up to the Kids

Children and teenagers have gone on strike this past Friday to protest inaction on climate change. Around the world, young protestors like Greta Thunberg feel that we’ve reached a tipping point and they must take action into their own hands, even though they are not yet out of grade-school.

What they’ve had to say is powerful. Greta’s speech included moving lines like this:

  • “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes…Because the adult generations have used up all our carbon budget.

What’s the Impact of Inaction?

The IPCC’s climate report gives us ten years to avoid the worst effects of climate change, and it’s had a big impact on these Generation Z activists, who are mostly aged in their mid teens. In ten years’ time, they’ll be in their mid twenties and dealing with the repercussions of older generations’ inaction.

These bleak prospects have a real impact, even beyond the climate. The United States has an aging population, and young people have cited climate change as a concern for having children. Business Insider conducted a poll which found

  • Nearly 38% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 agreed that climate change should be a factor in a couple’s decision about whether to have children. And 34% of Americans between the ages of 30 and 44 agreed.

What Can We Do?

By powering most of the world on electricity that comes from wind and solar and other renewable, carbon-free sources and offsetting things like plane travel that have to use fossil fuel with higher prices and carbon capture, we can put a stop to the worst of climate change.  “It’s 2050 And This Is How We Stopped Climate Change” outlined a clear vision of the future:

  • “This is the foundation of a zero-carbon world: Electricity that comes from clean sources, mainly the sun and the wind, cheap and increasingly abundant. Today, it powers this house; tomorrow, it could drive the world.”

The good news is that we still have a few years to turn things around, and we have the solutions we need to do it – all that’s missing is action.

  • “In order to have impact, timely impact, I figured that I need to leave research and focus on impactful things that I want to do. And fast,” she says.

As consumers and citizens, we can also have a big impact. Voting, both at the polls and with our dollars, combined with individual choices on things like transportation, are powerful ways to combat climate change. One easy switch to make is to support the transition to clean energy through community solar, which is becoming increasingly available in many states.

You can help Fight Climate Change by joining a Community Solar Farm.

LEARN MORE

Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE PHONE CONSULTATION

solar field

Climate Change isn’t the whole problem

So much of the discussion around clean energy currently focuses on climate change and pricing, but we shouldn’t forget another important reason to “go green” – pollution. Fossil fuels and nuclear produce dangerous pollutants which have a direct impact on our health and the sustainability of our planet.

Coal

  • Coal use is declining, but we still get almost 30% of the country’s power from it.
  • Coal extraction uses harmful techniques such as mountaintop removal and strip mining, which pollutes water sources and damages ecosystems.
    • Underground coal mines pose threats to safety from collapse and methane leaks.
  • Burning coal releases heavy metals such as mercury, as well as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates
    • These pollutants are linked to respiratory illness, neurological damage, smog and acid rain.

Natural Gas

  • Natural gas burns cleaner and more efficiently than coal, but it still emits pollutants and accounts for about 32% of our energy.
  • The extraction of natural gas can be problematic.
    • Laying pipelines to transport natural gas requires clearing land, and when the pipelines leak they release methane, a strong greenhouse gas.
    • Hydrogren sulfide is burned off, or “flared,” when extracting natural gas, which releases varying pollutants
    • Hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, uses a fluid that contains unknown chemicals – only 28 states require the disclosure of some of the chemicals in fracking fluid. This fluid can leak and pollute water supplies.
  • Fracking has also resulted in earthquakes at wastewater injection sites.

Nuclear

  • Some says nuclear energy could help with climate change, but we should not take the potential health risks lightly.
  • Used nuclear fuel emits dangerous levels of radiation long after it’s used and there is currently no long-term solution on where and how to store this waste.
  • Nuclear meltdowns may be relatively infrequent or unlikely, but when they happen they’re disastrous.
    • Incidents like Fukushima and Chernobyl have a high human cost, and render cities uninhabitable for the foreseeable future.

Solar is a Solution

  • The guaranteed lifespan of solar panels is twenty to twenty-five years, which is much better than many consumer electronics such as cell phones or laptops, and in many cases they can be recycled.
  • Using the sun for energy doesn’t emit water, air, or carbon pollution.

You can help Fight Climate Change by joining a Community Solar Farm.

LEARN MORE

Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE PHONE CONSULTATION

eco friendly bikes

3 Easy Changes to Help New Year’s Climate Resolutions

2019: The Year to Take Action

Every January we set goals for our new year. With all the news about our environment’s future that came out in 2018, maybe one of your resolutions was to be greener. We’re here with our top picks for easy ways to fight climate change and save money.

1: Say NO to Single-Use Plastic

Plastic pollution is a major concern – from news on single use plastic bans to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, we’ve all heard the scope of the problem. There are many ways we can tackle this.  First and foremost when asked “Paper or Plastic?” at the store, the answer is “Neither.”  Bringing (or buying at the store) your own re-usable bag will help reduce plastic waste. If you have to use plastic bags, try to re-use them and then they can be recycled at most grocery stores.   Another cost effective and easy switch you can make is to buy in bulk. It cuts down on packaging, even more so if you bring your own reusable container to the bulk aisle.

2: Take a Walk (Or Bike)

According to the EPA,A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.” And according to the Energy Information Administration, the average household spent about two thousand dollars on gas in 2017. If you’re able to, committing to walking or biking on trips under a mile will save you at the pump, and as an added bonus you’ll make some progress on your fitness resolutions too.

3: Support the Switch to Clean Energy

Electricity accounts for twenty eight percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, and residents of Massachusetts pay one of the highest rates for it. Often people like the idea of clean energy, but are concerned it’s too expensive or complicated. Community solar is a different way to “go solar,” designed to remove obstacles. By participating in communal fields of panels, residents of Massachusetts can save money, guaranteed and fight climate change with no investment and no installation. And community solar doesn’t conflict with choosing a green electricity supplier.

Get Paid to Keep This New Year’s Resolution:
Fight Climate Change

LEARN MORE

Ready to go Community Solar?

See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE PHONE CONSULTATION

The Benefits of a Green Power Grid

Skeptics of clean energy argue that more technology like solar and wind on the grid would mean instability, higher prices, and economic harm. But moving to a more sustainable power grid hasn’t caused the destabilization or issues critics predicted. In fact, the transition has come with many benefits beyond mitigating climate change. These include lower and more stable energy prices, as well as resilience to natural disasters and other interruptions.

California, Massachusetts, New York, and Colorado are a few of the states that have seen a lot of success with community solar programs. They have overcome some of the obstacles in accessibility like pricing and siting that rooftop solar faces, and community solar distributes the financial benefits of solar more equitably than rooftop solar does.

But it’s not just traditionally “blue” states that have had success integrating clean energy. Texas, Alabama, Iowa, and Idaho have also been leaders in installed capacity. Texas is a great example, it hit a milestone with 18% of its energy coming from wind and solar. “The 18 percent number matters because for years critics of renewable energy have argued that grid costs and reliability will spiral out of control before we hit 20 percent wind and solar. But in Texas, retail electricity prices have actually decreased, coming in well below the U.S. average.” If a conservative state like Texas can make wind work to their benefit, it seems like we should be able to follow suite in other states too.

And all signs seem positive that we can move beyond the twenty percent mark with no ill effects. “…a succession of rigorous studies — including a widely cited two-year study conducted by the DOE itself in 2012 — has found that renewables can provide as much as 80 percent of the nation’s energy supply without disrupting a properly managed grid. And that doesn’t mean that 80 percent is the upper limit of renewables — it indicates only that levels beyond 80 percent weren’t thoroughly investigated.” In fact, there are some aspects of solar and wind generated power that make things more stable. Once a solar or wind farm is built, operating costs are low and predictable, helping to even out electricity prices. They are also less vulnerable to major outages as they are more spread out and “modular,” meaning a natural disaster taking out some plants won’t stop overall production.

As we see more success stories, the reasons are piling up to transition to clean energy. Adding lower prices and more stable service to the benefits of renewable power makes it more broadly appealing; climate change isn’t the only motivator anymore.

Join a Community Solar Farm. Fight Climate Change.
Help Make the Electric Grid More Resilient.

Ready to go Community Solar?

See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.