EIA Reports Show Continued Growth of Renewable Energy Sources

Notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic, renewable energy sources (biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) continue to expand their share of the nation’s energy production and consumption as well as electricity generation, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of data in two reports released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).  

The latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” (with data through July 31, 2020) reveals that solar and wind both showed continued growth, expanding faster than all other energy sources.   

For the period January through July, solar-generated electricity – including distributed solar – expanded by 22.2 percent (compared to the same period in 2019) and provided nearly 3.4 percent of the nation’s total. Wind grew by 13 percent and accounted for almost 8.5 percent of total generation. Combined, net electrical generation by wind and solar is 15.5 percent greater than a year ago.  Together with hydropower, biomass, and geothermal, renewables provided 21.2 percent of total electrical output – up from 19.2 percent a year earlier.  

Moreover, renewables produced almost a fifth (19.6 percent) more electricity than coal through July 2020. In fact, electrical generation by coal was 27.5 percent lower than a year earlier and accounted for just 17.8 percent of the nation’s total. In addition, renewable energy sources produced 6.7 percent more electricity than did nuclear power whose output fell 1.7 percent during the same seven-month period.  

Meanwhile, the latest issue of EIA’s “Monthly Energy Review” (with data through June 30, 2020) shows domestic energy production by renewable sources (including biofuels) reached an all-time, mid-year high of 6.002 quadrillion Btus (quads) – 0.5 percent higher than the level achieved a year earlier.  

Notwithstanding declines in hydropower (down 2 percent), geothermal (down 2.9 percent), biomass (down 5.6 percent), and biofuels (down 14.5 percent), overall renewable energy production rose due to continuing growth by solar (up 20.7 percent) and wind (up 14.4 percent). 

Overall, renewable energy’s share of the nation’s energy production during the first half of 2020 was 12.4 percent – almost one-eighth. A year earlier it was 12 percent.  

Renewable energy also increased its share of domestic energy consumption, expanding from 11.7 percent at mid-year 2019 to 12.9 percent at the end of June 2020. 

“Notwithstanding a generally hostile Trump Administration and the challenges posed by the coronavirus, renewable energy sources continue to expand their share of the nation’s energy use and electrical generation,” notes the SUN DAY Campaign’s executive director Ken Bossong. “They have now taken the lead over nuclear power and coal and – with the right policy support – are poised to accelerate their growth in the years ahead.”  

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