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EGEB: US coal shipments at lowest level in 36 years, #CoveringClimateNow week, more

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • US coal shipments reach the lowest level since 1983.
  • #CoveringClimateNow — more than 250 media outlets are on the green energy and climate change beat this week.
  • The pros (yes, you read that right) and cons of fossil fuels.
  • Women’s leadership in clean tech: London’s action plan.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

The proof of where coal is going is in the numbers, and that’s down.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that “nearly 600 million short tons (MMst) of coal was shipped to the US electric power sector in 2018, the lowest level since 1983… Coal shipments to the electric power sector in 2018 were 7% (47 MMst) lower than the previous year.”

Further, on September 10, the EIA’s Short Term Energy Outlook forecast that in the second half of 2019, coal production would be 15% less than in the second half of 2018. “EIA forecasts that US coal consumption will total 593 MMst in 2019 and 548 MMst in 2020, a decline of 14% in 2019 and 8% in 2020.”

Platts reported in April that “coal is expected to make up 24.3% of US power generation in 2019 and 22.3% in 2020, down from 27.4% generated from coal in 2018.”

Meanwhile, on the green energy front, EIA says:

EIA expects electric power sector generation from renewables other than hydropower — principally wind and solar — to grow from 409 billion kWh in 2019 to 467 billion kWh in 2020… EIA forecasts that, after rising by 2.7% in 2018, U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will decline by 2.5% in 2019 and by 1.0% in 2020.

America, you’ve gotta move faster, but at least you’re going in the right direction.


In April, the Columbia Journalism Review and the Nation launched Covering Climate Now. The purpose is to get news organizations to increase the quality and quantity of green energy and climate change coverage. They encouraged news outlets to try it for a week. And this is the week.

The coverage will run until September 23, the day of the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York. (But they won’t stop beyond that; they’ll review what they learned and continue.)

More than 250 news outlets across the globe are participating. There is a combined audience of more than 1 billion people.

To find this week’s green energy and climate stories, go to Twitter and search on #CoveringClimateNow, or follow @CoveringClimate.

Fossil fuels: pros and cons

Green Coast wrote up a list of the pros and cons of fossil fuels. Here’s their objective:

Let’s explore the fossil fuels pros and cons to understand better if fossil fuels are the best energy in industrial processes or we should seek alternative sources of energy such as wind, solar, or water energy.

They define fossil fuels as coal, petroleum, and natural gas.


  • Super-efficient energy sources (My two cents: Oil is dense, so small quantities can produce a lot of energy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean “efficient,” as a lot of energy is wasted in their production.)
  • Useful byproducts (They mean plastic. And it’s been useful short-term, but we really didn’t think about the long-term repercussions.)
  • Easier to transport (They’re referring to underground pipes.)
  • Generates thousands of jobs
  • Easier to set up
  • Readily available


  • Environmental degradation
  • Power stations require lots of reserves of coal
  • Health complications
  • Depletion level is high (Fossil fuels are finite.)
  • Oil spill that causes environmental damage
  • High levels of water usage (Fossil fuel power plants need a huge amount of water for cooling.)
  • Release of harmful waste products
  • Rising costs (As we found out with the bombing in Saudi Arabia, if only a couple countries have fossil fuels, costs go up globally when they’re depleted or unavailable.)
  • Exposes risk to the health of coal-mining workers

Their conclusion?

When we compare the fossil fuels pros and cons, it is clear that despite its numerous uses, it harms our planet. Therefore, there is a need to consider other alternative sources of energy and find out we can harness these sustainable resources. (Unsurprisingly, we at Electrek agree.)

Women and ‘clean tech’ energy jobs

Clean Technica (via Women4Climate) reports on how the London Sustainable Development Commission (LSDC) has been providing recommendations to attract more women into the clean tech sector since 2016 for London.

The LSDC defines clean tech as “those products and services that avoid or repair harmful effects on the environment caused by human activity. These products and services are central to a low-carbon economy and will need to be the norm in a zero-carbon London.”

Some of their findings:

  • Businesses with women at strategic and senior management levels have been shown generally to outperform those without.
  • In early-stage clean-tech startups receiving UK grant funding, 74% have no female founder.
  • In 2017, only 7% of patents for green inventions filed in the UK were by a team with at least one female.
  • One of the biggest barriers to female leadership in these sectors is that venture capital and finance remain male-dominated. Only 3% of venture capital partners are women, and only 14% of startup investors are women.
  • 43% of women surveyed cited lack of confidence as a barrier to success in clean tech.

The LSCD’s recommendations to increase women’s leadership in clean tech are:

  • Connect existing networks.
  • Work with the finance community to improve gender parity in the companies receiving financing.
  • Strengthen the existing ecosystem, amplifying activity and developing best practice.
  • Cohesive, strategic, and targeted communications to inspire the next wave of female clean-tech entrepreneurs.
  • Work with schools and education institutes to encourage girls and young women into the field.
  • Address unconscious biases and give women the tools and skills to succeed in clean-tech entrepreneurship.

As UN Women succinctly put it, “When more women work, economies grow.” The green energy sector, like all sectors, can only benefit by embracing gender parity and inclusion.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.