A recent study comparing the costs and benefits of coal-based power plants to those of wind and solar energy projects found a clear answer surrounding the future of our power grids.
The report, by the policy group Energy Innovation, found that nearly all of America’s coal plants — a whopping 99% — would cost more money to maintain than to simply replace. In this case, the money-saving replacement was either a wind or solar plant.
“All but one of the country’s 210 coal plants are more expensive to operate than either new wind or new solar,” the report states.
The study suggests strategies for communities to gradually make the change to clean energy. For one, Energy Innovation lays out a plan to use clean energy as an “anchor” for additional economic expansion — as it could drive an estimated $589 billion in investment for local communities. This would allow for cheaper, more sustainable energy that also brings extra money to deal with communities’ biggest needs.
When coal is burned for energy, it creates an intense amount of heat, which, in turn, converts water into high-pressure steam, powering a turbine to create electricity, the U.S. Geological Survey explains.