Production and Consumption of Renewable Energy Reaches a Record High

Domestic production and consumption of renewable energy (biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) reached a record high as of mid-year 2022, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of new data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).  

The latest issue of EIA’s “Monthly Energy Review” report (with data through June 30, 2022) reveals that renewable sources accounted for nearly one-seventh (13.84 percent) of the U.S. energy produced and 13.65 percent of the energy consumed for electricity, transportation, heating, and other uses. Renewable energy production during the first six months of 2022 was 6.991 quadrillion Btu (quads)—13.29 percent more than at the same time in 2021 and 17.54 percent more than at the mid-point of 2020.  

The growth by renewables was driven primarily by solar and wind which expanded by 26.55 percent and 24.66 percent, respectively. There were also increases in output by biofuels (up 10.00 percent) and hydropower (up 9.54 percent) while geothermal energy remained essentially unchanged. Production by wood and biomass waste combined fell by 1.60 percent. 

Wind is now the largest single renewable energy source, accounting for 30.30 percent of total U.S. renewable energy output, followed by hydropower (18.57 percent),  biomass (18.48 percent), biofuels (17.78 percent), solar (13.43 percent), and geothermal (1.46 percent). 

On the other hand, production by the nation’s nuclear power plants during the first half of 2022 was down by 1.29 percent and 3.76 percent, respectively, compared to the same six-month periods in 2021 and 2020. As a consequence, energy provided by renewable sources through the first half of 2022 exceeded nuclear generation by more than 75 percent (6.991 quads vs. 3.969 quads).  

Renewable energy production through the first half of this year also surpassed that of coal by 18.11 percent (6.991 quads vs. 5.919 quads).  

However, domestic energy production from all fossil fuel sources combined (oil and natural gas as well as coal) increased by 4.91 percent and accounted for 78.31 percent of the total. That, in turn, contributed to a 2.57 percent increase in carbon dioxide (C02) emissions attributable to U.S. fossil energy consumption. 

Strong growth by renewables is further confirmed by a second recently-released EIA report as well as another issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)—both with data through July 31, 2022. 

According to EIA’s latest “Electric Power Monthly” report, electrical generation by renewable sources increased by 19.26 percent during the first seven months of 2022, compared to the same period a year earlier and provided 24.23 percent of total output, including wind at 10.74 percent and solar at 4.97 percent. By comparison, coal’s share dropped to 19.67 percent and nuclear fell to 17.80 percent while natural gas retained its lead at 37.40 percent.  

And according to the latest issue of FERC’s monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” report, renewable energy sources accounted for more than two-thirds (66.76 percent) of new utility-scale generating capacity added during the first seven months of 2022. Renewables also now constitute 26.86 percent of total available installed generating capacity. Over the next three years, FERC says “high probability” net additions of solar and wind will total 66,204 megawatts (MW) and 17,792-MW respectively, compared to just 3,310-MW for natural gas.   

“The expansion of renewable energy’s share of U.S. energy production and consumption should come as no surprise given the trend of the past decade,” notes the SUN DAY Campaign’s executive director Ken Bossong. “However, the latest growth data will likely pale compared to what is on the near-term horizon now that the Inflation Reduction Act has become law.”  

Sources

EIA released its latest “Monthly Energy Review” on September 27, 2022. The data cited in this release can be found at, or extrapolated from, the following tables:   

Table 1.1 Primary Energy Overview:
https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec1_3.pdf
Table 1.2 Primary Energy Production by Source:
https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec1_5.pdf
Table 1.3 Primary Energy Consumption by Source: 

Table 10.1 Renewable Energy Production and Consumption by Source:
https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec10_3.pdf
Table 11.1 Carbon Dioxide Emissions From Energy Consumption by Source:
https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec11_3.pdf

EIA issued its latest “Electric Power Monthly” report on September 23, 2022. The data cited can be found or extrapolated from the following tables:  

https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=table_es1a

and  

https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=table_es1b

FERC issued its latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” on September 15, 2022. It can be found at:   

https://cms.ferc.gov/media/energy-infrastructure-update-july-2022

See the tables titled: “New Generation In-Service (New Build and Expansion),” “Total Available Installed Generating Capacity,” and “Generation Capacity Additions and Retirements (August 2022 – July 2025)”.

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