Renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) produced more electricity than coal during the first four months of 2020 and topped nuclear power as well, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” (with data through April 30, 2020) reveals that solar and wind both showed continued, strong growth, expanding faster than all other energy sources. During the first third of this year, solar-generated electricity – including distributed solar – expanded by 20.7 percent (compared to the same period in 2019) and provided almost 3 percent of the nation’s total. Wind grew by 12.2 percent and accounted for more than 9.3 percent of total generation.
Thus, wind and solar together provided 12.3 percent – or nearly one-eighth – of total U.S. electrical production during the first four months of 2020. Combined with hydropower, biomass, and geothermal, renewables provided 21.6 percent of total electrical output.
Moreover, renewables produced 27.1 percent more electricity than coal during the first third of 2020. Electrical generation by coal was 33.5 percent lower than a year earlier and accounted for just 17 percent of the nation’s total.
In addition, renewable energy sources produced 2.5 percent more electricity than did nuclear power during the same period. In April alone, renewables outperformed nuclear power by 14.9 percent.
EIA’s data for just the month of April also provides the first indication of the possible impacts of the coronavirus on competing renewable energy sources.
While the output of hydropower fell by 18.5 percent, non-hydro renewables provided 3.7 percent more electricity in April than a year earlier – driven primarily by 17.1 percent more generation by solar. Geothermal and biomass also increased by 9.5 percent and 0.7 percent respectively while wind dipped by 0.6 percent.