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Green energy surpasses coal as top power source during coronavirus lockdowns

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As coronavirus lockdowns continue, Earth has had some breathing room to recover.

The latest good news comes from the U.S., where the country’s slowing economy has boosted renewable energy, with power generation sources like solar, wind and hydro overtaking coal-fired power for 40 straight days.

A report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) credits the boost to low gas prices, warmer weather and a huge dip in electricity demand, thanks to stay-at-home orders requiring businesses to close and people to stay put.

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The institute has called the findings a “milestone” in the U.S. transition to clean energy.

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The longest previous stretch of renewable superiority lasted 38 days in April 2019, CBS News reports. Coal is typically the No. 1 fuel choice given its low cost, but in April, it held just 15.3 per cent of the market share, the publication adds.

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In 2008, coal controlled over half of the power market in the U.S. In January, it fell below 20 per cent for the first time in decades, the IEEFA reports.

It’s possible, the institute adds, that renewable energy could exceed coal annually in 2021, which could be further accelerated by the pandemic.

Overall U.S. electricity consumption is projected to fall 3 per cent this year, largely due to reduced demand from the commercial and industrial sectors, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Residential demand is also expected to fall due to milder winter and summer weather, Reuters reports.

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The EIA expects renewables to grow 11 per cent because of their low operating costs.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca