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Renewable energy is pushing coal out

Sustainability Snapshot #25

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Lumenstream is committed to helping the world say yes to a sustainable future. That’s why, biweekly, we like to share the positive steps other businesses and countries are taking to have less of a footprint on the planet.

We think that’s news worth spreading.

Luckily, a lot of people are fighting the good fight so there’s never a lack of stories to cover.

This week we focus on what’s new in the world of renewables.


Renewables Overtake Coal in the Money Stakes

For years, renewable energy was not being adopted as it was more costly than the old favourite fossil fuels. It’s now time for coal to take the back seat. And it has. A recent study by Energy Innovation and reported by Oliver Milman in The Guardian has shown renewable energy farms in the US are now cheaper to run than 99% of coal plants . In fact, it’s actually cheaper to build brand new solar or wind farms and connect them to the grid than to keep the old coal plants going.

That is for all coal plants, except for one- Dry Fork, Wyoming.

The study showed a new solar plant is a quarter cheaper per megawatt hour than the old coal plants. Not only that, but the coal plants aren’t providing as much energy as they used to. Production has dropped by 55% since 2007 and jobs in the sector are dwindling.

The Inflation Reduction Act has helped accelerate solar and wind infrastructure to become cheaper, soon to leave coal plants in the dust. Well, at least faster than before.


New Improvement on Solar Panels

Just when you think you’re getting the latest green tech put in, along come scientists with a new and improved version. You can’t stay annoyed for long though when you hear that they can produce 35% more energy than your regular solar panels. AND, the ‘bifacial photovoltaics’ could end up contributing 16% of the global energy supply by 2050.

A new paper reveals these double-sided solar panels as

  • more effective- they harvest reflected light
  • more durable- they can produce power for more than 30 years
  • more economical- as they take in more power, the electricity output will be cheaper.

If you want to geek out on the latest research you can read this scientific paper.


Solar Being Used to Create Sustainable Fuel

What if there was a way to combine two bad things in the environment to create a sustainable fuel? Well, that’s exactly what the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge have done. They are on a mission to convert waste using solar energy.

Plastic + CO2 + Solar Energy = Sustainable Fuels

What makes this simplified equation above possible is perovskite or the ‘miracle material’. It may be that this mineral could replace silicon as solar cells as it’s cheaper, easier to manipulate and easier to manufacture. Perovskite panels are not available to us yet, but keep a look out, they most likely will take over the world.

Let’s hope the University continues to make breakthroughs and finds a way to apply their method at scale, simultaneously reducing plastic pollution and CO2.


Thanks for reading this week’s Snapshot. It’s great to find so many stories of renewables gaining traction, these were just three that really stood out to us. We’d love to hear of any that you think could be more impactful on the world’s transition to cleaner energy.

If you’d like to read more sustainability news that has caught our eye, then visit our press page. You’ll also be able to find more in-depth articles there on energy efficiency, Lighting as a Service, and more.


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