There has been a lot of talk about coal's declining global fortunes of late, with much of the credit going to cheap natural gas. But there's no doubt that renewables, too, are beginning to take a bite out of King Coal, potentially transforming the energy landscape in the process.
The latest sign of how quickly things are changing: The Guardian reports that for more than four days straight between 6.45am Saturday, May 7th to 5.45pm on the following Wednesday, wind, solar and hydro were responsible for producing more electricity in Portugal than the entire nation consumed.
That's an amazing milestone.
True, it's unlikely that no fossil fuels were burned to produce electricity in Portugal during that time. (The report is a little vague about that.) Instead, more clean energy was produced than the nation needed—with some of it presumably going to exports. Still, this is a sign of how far renewables have come.
When renewables can consistently supply this much power over an extended period of time, it really does become possible to start cutting back on fossil fuel generation. And with energy storage costs dropping dramatically, short-term weather forecasting improving and flexible demand response programs becoming increasingly viable, the naysayers' arguments are beginning to look a little weak.