Advancements in clean energy—particularly wind and solar energy—are quickly approaching a tipping point. It won’t be long before wind and solar will be able to compete directly with traditional forms of power generation without the need for subsidies. And when that happens, there will be a sweeping change in Western culture.
As soon as clean energy is economically competitive with (not cheaper; just competitive with) traditional energy, it just won’t make sense anymore to use coal power on anywhere near the scale we do today. To make coal more palatable, government and industry will combine to clean up coal power plant emissions somewhat to continue to provide a solid base load of electricity. But this will, naturally, raise the cost of coal power and narrow the cost gap even further with cleaner energy forms—particularly natural gas.