Renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) accounted for more than one-fifth (20.05 percent) of net domestic electrical generation during the first third of 2018, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
In addition, the latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” (with data through April 30, 2018) reveals that solar alone (utility-scale + distributed PV) is now providing more than 2 percent (2.07 percent) of the nation’s electrical production. As such, it has moved into third place among renewable sources, surpassing biomass (1.6 percent) and geothermal (0.4 percent).
Moreover, wind accounted for 8 percent of total electrical generation during the first four months of this year, exceeding that produced by hydropower, wind – 104,801 gigawatt-hours and hydro – 104,518 gigawatt-hours.
Thus, the net electrical generation by solar (utility-scale + distributed PV) and wind combined during the first third of 2018 exceeded 10 percent (10.06 percent) of the nation’s total.
Adding in biomass and geothermal, electrical generation by non-hydro renewables exceeded 12 percent (12.07 percent) of the nation’s total output during the first four months of 2018; thereby exceeding expectations in EIA’s “Short-Term Energy Outlook”.
EIA’s data also show that electric power output by non-hydro renewable sources increased by 11.5 percent compared to the first third of 2017. Solar (including small-scale distributed PV) increased by 30.9 percent, wind by 10.5 percent, and biomass by 0.5 percent.
However, net electrical generation by hydropower dropped by 6.6 percent and geothermal dipped by 2 percent so the combination of hydropower and non-hydro renewables experienced a net increase of 3.5 percent compared to the same time period in 2017.
But even that modest rate of growth is helping to further close the gap between renewable sources and nuclear power which, for the first third of the year, remain neck-in-neck for their respective shares of net U.S. electrical generation, 20.05 percent (renewables) versus 20.27 percent (nuclear).