The war against coal is over

Scott Pruitt, the Chief of the Environment Protection Agency, said today that “The war against coal is over.” He would be rolling back a rule to limit greenhouse emissions from existing power plants today. They can go back to producing coal.

He is right in a sense. The war against coal is indeed over – but, for reasons different than he thinks.

As Stanford Professor Tony Seba explains, The cost of solar has moved from $100/Watt in 1970 to $0.33/Watt in 2012 – a 303x decline. Solar prices go down roughly ~11% every year. Compared to fossil fuel sources which have gotten more expensive, Solar’s costs have improved between 1800x and 5000x. As a result, the install base has doubled every year since 2000.

Everything I’ve read on behavioral economics has taught me that the best way to get us to make better decisions is to align the environment and incentives. Solar is getting cheaper and it will soon become a no-brainer, economically, for the world to switch to solar. I am optimistic about this happening in the next decade.

And, I am excited for that and the end of the war on coal.