Studies have found that it would cost more to continue operating the U.S. coal mines than replace them with new wind or solar projects.
- If the U.S. were to replace every coal mining plant with a renewable energy product, it would cut back emissions, save water, and cost less than operating the plant.
- President Joe Biden’s climate legislation has poured millions into clean energy, making the infrastructure cheaper and more obtainable.
- The legislation gives a 10% tax credit for new “energy communities”—providing more money to build clean-energy infrastructure to replace coal plants and reduce emissions.
Why it’s important
Coal power plants have been a leading energy source for many years, but they are also a leading source of emissions that need to be cut back on.
As the U.S. hits a clean energy turning point and begins pouring more money into clean energy infrastructure, it has gotten to the point that it is cheaper to build new wind or solar projects than run the existing coal mines in the U.S., according to a report by Energy Innovation.
President Biden’s climate legislation has focused on clean-energy infrastructure to cut back on emissions in the U.S. The legislation gives money and incentives for building new clean energy sources, making it cheaper to build new infrastructure than maintain others.
“The Inflation Reduction Act has made this local replacement and reinvestment scenario so economic and so much cheaper than coal,” says Energy Innovation policy analyst Michelle Solomon. “It really creates a big opportunity to diversify the economics in coal communities.”
The report from Energy Innovation compares the cost of operating all coal plants in the U.S. to all costs of creating and maintaining new wind and solar projects. The study found that in all but one case of the 210 studies, it was cheaper to build new infrastructure than maintain older ones.