Colorado Solar Installs Rise as Coal Plants Close
All across America, fossil fuels are on the way out. As the country switches to green energy, many states are passing laws forbidding the construction of new fossil fuel plants. Cities are reducing natural gas hookups and coal mines are closing. What does this mean for Colorado?
Why Fossil Fuels Are a Dying Industry
Fossil fuels are booming across the sea in places like India and China. Partly due to the rapid industrialization of these countries among other factors, they are building new coal mines at a high rate. While fossil fuels are still important worldwide, they’re having a reduced role in America.
Reducing the Role of Coal in America
Environmental policy has been slowly constricting fossil fuel extraction across America. In many places, new coal mines are not allowed to be built, nor are coal-fired power plants. While there is no federal clean energy standard yet — though Congress and President Biden hope to change that — several states have their own standards. Colorado is no exception.
Coal and Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard
Colorado’s renewable energy standard required 30 percent of all electricity production to come from renewable sources by 2020. Additionally, all utilities which service more than 500,000 customers are required to produce 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2050.
Because of the relatively tight time frame for removing fossil fuels from their portfolios, a number of companies are beginning to rely more heavily on wind and solar. Coal is forming less and less of their total production. Coal-fired power plants are no longer being built and mines are shutting down.
The Place of Residential Solar in Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard
For large Colorado electric utility companies, reliance on residential solar installations is becoming more and more attractive. Net metering allows homeowners to send off excess solar energy to the electric grid. That energy can then be distributed to other, non-solar homes. Net metering is particularly powerful when paired with battery backup, such as the Tesla Powerwall.
Decentralized solar production is one way for Colorado to switch over to renewable energy quickly. The reduction in coal production will require new energy sources to fill in the gap. While large-scale solar facilities are being constructed, utilizing existing residential solar installations and installing new ones can help Colorado reach its renewable energy goals.