Natural gas use surpassed coal as a main source of electricity in the U.S. in 2016, the first time that a fuel other than coal has supplied the bulk of the nation’s power, according to an analysis by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The agency has long predicted that natural gas would surpass coal as natural gas prices feel to their lowest since 1999. Natural gas generated 34 percent of the country’s electricity, while coal generated 30 percent.
That balance is expected to shift in 2017 as natural gas prices recover. Coal and natural gas are each expected to generate about 32 percent of the nation’s electricity this year, the Energy Department said. Forecasts for 2018 show a slight increase again in natural gas generation of electricity.
Nuclear power accounted for the third largest share of electricity generation in 2016, at 20 percent. Renewables, like wind and solar power, accounted for only 8 percent, although they were the fastest growing energy sources.