Solar and Wind Production of Domestic Energy Increases in 2019

The production of domestic energy from solar sources increased by 13.85 percent in 2019 while that from wind grew by 10.06 percent, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of newly-released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The latest issue of EIA’s “Monthly Energy Review” (with data through Dec. 31, 2019) reveals that, for the first time, in 2019, energy from solar sources (1.044 quadrillion Btus or quads) topped 1 percent of total U.S. energy production while that from wind reached nearly 3 percent (2.71 percent).

However, the strong growth in solar and wind energy’s contribution to the nation’s energy mix was largely offset by declines in hydropower (down 6.41 percent), biomass (down 3.67 percent), and biofuels (down 2.92 percent). Geothermal remained unchanged.

Consequently, energy production by all renewable energy sources combined (biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) increased just marginally last year (0.24 percent) compared to 2018. Consumption of renewable energy also expanded – but by only 0.53 percent.

While energy production by the combination of all renewables did register very modest growth, a 7.06 percent expansion in output by fossil fuels resulted in renewables’ share of total energy production actually dropping from 12.14 percent in 2018 to 11.52 percent in 2019. But renewables’ share of domestic energy consumption did increase slightly from 11.27 percent to 11.45 percent.

Other key findings in EIA’s report:

  • Biomass remained the dominant renewable energy source in 2019: 2.833 quads compared to wind (2.736 quads), hydropower (2.496 quads), biofuels (2.327 quads), solar (1.044 quads), and geothermal (0.209 quads).
  • Energy production by coal fell to its lowest level in 50 years (14.322 quads in 2019 compared to 14.607 quads in 1970).
  • Production of natural gas (dry) increased by 10.17 percent and accounted for 34.52 percent of total domestic energy production. Crude oil production rose by 11.11 percent and accounted for 25.15 percent of the U.S.’s total output. Natural gas plant liquids accounted for another 6.27 percent.
  • Energy contributed by nuclear power changed only slightly (8.462 quads in 2019 compared to 8.438 quads in 2018) but its share of the total energy production mix declined from 8.82 percent to 8.37 percent.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy consumption (oil, gas, coal, biomass) fell by 2.71 percent resulting mostly from a 13.97 percent decline in coal-related emissions. However, CO2 emissions in 2019 were at essentially the same level as they were in 2017.
  • While domestic use of fuel ethanol rose slightly (up 0.82 percent), production of the fuel fell by 1.91 percent. A sharper drop was reported for biodiesel (down 7.17 percent); consumption of biodiesel also declined – by 4.94 percent.

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