This article is Featured in cleantechnica.com
In the midst of all the gloom and doom hovering over the US coal industry, the great state of West Virginia is celebrating an uptick in coal production. That’s good news for coal communities, at least for now. However, it’s a case of the exception proving the rule. Natural gas, renewable energy, and microgrids have already eaten away at coal’s grip on domestic power production, and they are coming back for seconds.
Microgrids Are Ready For Their Closeup
The worst is yet to come. Of those three factors, cheap natural gas has been the main force driving coal out of the power generation market. More recently, renewables have been catching up to natural gas. The last piece to fall into place is the microgrid sector.
It’s not just wishful thinking. Regardless of current White House* policy, the US Department of Energy is still pursuing its ongoing Grid Modernization Initiative, which leans heavily on integrating more renewables into the grid.
In a related area of funding, the Energy Department is promoting microgrids and distributed energy resources as means of building more resiliency and reliability into the nation’s electricity supply.
Put everything together, and you have a situation in which economic growth is not locked in to centralized coal power plants — or centralized anything, for that matter.