Renewable Power Generation Now Surpasses Nuclear

Monthly Energy Review, published by the US Energy Information Administration, reports that electric power generation from renewable sources has surpassed production from nuclear sources, and is now “closing in on oil,” says Ken Bossong Executive Director of the Sun Day Campaign

In the first quarter of 2011 renewable energy sources accounted for 11.73 percent of US domestic energy production. Renewable sources include solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass/biofuel. As of the first quarter of 2011, energy production from these sources was 5.65 percent more than production from nuclear.

As Bossing further explains from the report, renewable sources are closing the gap with generation from oil-fired sources, with renewable source equal to 77.15 percent of total oil based generation.

For all sectors, including transportation, thermal, and electrical generation, renewable energy production grew just over 15 percent in the first quarter of 2011 compared to the first quarter of 2010, and fully 25 percent over first quarter 2009. In a break-down of renewable sources, biomass/biofuel accounted for a bit more than 48 percent, hydro for 35.41 percent, wind for nearly 13 percent, geothermal 2.45 percent, and solar at 1.16 percent.

Looking at just the electrical generation sector, renewable sources, including hydro, accounted for nearly 13 percent of net US electrical generation in the first quarter of 2011, up from 10.31 percent for the same quarter last year. Non-hydro renewable sources accounted for 4.74 percent of net US production.

Electrical power generation from renewable grew by almost 26 percent in the first quarter of 2011 over the same quarter in 2010. Solar power generation was up 104.8 percent, wind generation increased 40.3 percent, and hydro expanded by 28.7 percent. Electricity generated from biomass decreased by 4.8 percent. By comparison, natural gas generation increased by 1.8 percent, nuclear by 0.4 percent, and coal-fired electrical generation declined by 5.7 percent.

“Notwithstanding the recent nuclear accident in Japan, among many others, and the rapid growth in energy and electricity from renewable sources, congressional Republicans continue to press for more nuclear energy funding while seeking deep cuts in renewable energy investments,” said Bossong. “One has to wonder ‘what are these people thinking?’”

by Thomas Schueneman


2 Responses to Renewable Power Generation Now Surpasses Nuclear

  1. Tom Kauffman NEI Reply

    October 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    While renewables produced more energy than nuclear for the first three months of 2011, that number includes biofuels and biomass used in the industrial and transportation sectors. When we look at generation in the electric sector where nuclear actually competes, renewables produce about half as much electricity as nuclear. Renewables still have a long way to go to match nuclear’s electric generation.
    It’s also worth noting that the quality of power from renewables supplies such as wind and solar energy is much different than the quality of power from nuclear reactors. Wind and solar are intermittent and require significant amounts of new transmission. Wind produces the least amount of electricity when it is needed most during summer months because the heat stifles wind flow. Nuclear energy facilities produce continuous 24/7, baseload electricity that helps maintain grid stability. The nuclear facilities typically operate one and-a-half to two years non-stop, shutting down briefly during low demand periods for maintenance and refueling. With an average capacity factor of 89%, nuclear energy is the most reliable source of electricity in the U.S.

  2. Bill Storage Reply

    December 12, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Yes, global warming is real. Physics-defying idealism such as shown here will do little to prevent it. China will generate its power from coal or nuclear through the 21st century. Solar and wind can’t supply base load and their power generation density – even at theoretical efficiency – is way to low to work in China even if we find a means of storing electricity. So given the choice between coal and nuclear, which would you pick to avert climate disaster?

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