Benelux_Infrastructure_Forum_171
30 June 2017 2017 10:19 AM GMT

US: Clean Energy Now Providing More Electricity Than Nuclear For The First Time

The latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information’s (EIA) “Electric Power Monthly” (with data through April 30, 2017) reveals that – for the first time since the beginning of the nuclear era – renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar – inc. small-scale PV, wind) are now providing a greater share of the nation’s electrical generation than nuclear power.

For the first third of this year, renewables and nuclear power have been running neck-in-neck with renewables providing 20.20% of U.S. net electrical generation during the four-month period (January – April) compared to 20.75% for nuclear power. But in March and April, renewables surpassed nuclear power and have taken a growing lead: 21.60% (renewables) vs. 20.34% (nuclear) in March, and 22.98% (renewables) vs. 19.19% (nuclear) in April.

While renewables and nuclear are each likely to continue to provide roughly one-fifth of the nation’s electricity generation in the near-term, the trend line clearly favours a rapidly expanding market share by renewables. Electrical output by renewables during the first third of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016 has increased by 12.1% whereas nuclear output has dropped by 2.9%.

In fact, nuclear capacity has declined over the last four years, a trend which is projected to continue, regardless of planned new reactor startups. From 2013-16, six reactors permanently ceased operation (Crystal River, Kewaunee, San Onofre-2, San Onofre-3, Vermont Yankee, Fort Calhoun), totalling 4,862 MW of generation capacity. Last year, one new reactor (Watts Bar-2) was connected to the grid (after a 43-year construction period), adding 1,150 MW, for a net decline of 3,712 MW since 2013. Six more reactors are scheduled to close by 2021, totalling 5,234 MW (5.2% of nuclear capacity). Two more reactors totalling 2,240 MW are scheduled to close by 2025.**

In addition, nuclear generators are discussing the potential retirements of several more. Against the planned retirement of 7,274 MW of capacity, four new reactors are in construction, totalling 4,468 MW. The completion of these reactors is in doubt, however, due to billions of dollars in cost overruns and the bankruptcy of designer-builder Westinghouse.

If all reactors being built are ultimately completed, total nuclear generating capacity will decline by at least 2,806 MW (3%) by 2025, planned additions against planned retirements. If these projects are cancelled, nuclear capacity will decline by at least 7,274 MW (7.2%) from 2017, accounting for roughly 57,000 TMWh/year of generation.

On the other hand, almost all renewable energy sources are experiencing strong growth rates. Comparing the first four months of 2017 to the same period in 2016, solar has grown by 37.9%, wind by 14.2%, hydropower by 9.5%, and geothermal by 5.3%. Biomass (inc. wood and wood-derived fuels) has remained essentially unchanged – slipping by just 0.3%.

In recent years, the strong growth rates of both solar and wind have resulted in new records being set virtually every month. For the second month in a row, solar and wind combined provided more than 10% of the nation’s electrical generation. In March 2017, those sources provided 10.04% of the nation’s electrical generation. That record was eclipsed in April when solar and wind reached nearly 11 percent (10.92%) of total generation. And, for the first time, wind and solar combined have provided more electricity year-to-date (113,971 thousand megawatt-hours (TMWh)) than has hydropower (111,750 TMWh).

In April, solar alone reached another milestone, providing more than two percent (2.33%) of the nation’s electrical supply. Consequently, solar has now moved into third place among renewable sources – behind hydropower and wind but ahead of biomass and geothermal. In April, utility-scale plus small-scale solar provided 20,928 TMWh compared to 20,509 TMWh from biomass and 5,945 TMWh from geothermal.

And not coincidentally, as renewables’ share of electrical generation has grown, that of fossil fuels has declined. Electrical generation by fossil fuels (i.e., coal, natural gas, petroleum liquids + petroleum coke) dropped by 5.2% during the first third of 2017 compared to 2016.

“In light of their growth rates in recent years, it was inevitable that renewable sources would eventually overtake nuclear power,” noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign.  “The only real surprise is how soon that has happened — years before most analysts ever expected.” “Renewable energy is now surpassing nuclear power, a major milestone in the transformation of the U.S. energy sector,” said Tim Judson, Executive Director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service.  “This gulf will only widen over the next several years, with continued strong growth of renewables and the planned retirement of at least 7% of nuclear capacity by 2025. The possible completion of four new reactors will not be enough to reverse this trend, with total nuclear capacity falling by 2,806 MW (3%) through 2025.”

** Planned nuclear reactor retirements (state – capacity – year): Palisades (MI, 811-MW, 2018), Pilgrim (MA, 688-MW, 2019), Oyster Creek (NJ, 637-MW, 2019), Three Mile Island 1 (PA, 829-MW, 2019), Indian Point 2 (NY, 1,028-MW, 2020), Indian Point 3 (NY, 1,040-MW, 2021), Diablo Canyon 1 (CA 1,118-MW, 2024), Diablo Canyon 2 (CA, 1,122-MW, 2025).

The SUN DAY Campaign is a non-profit research and educational organisation founded in 1992 to aggressively promote sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels. Founded in 1978, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) provides information  and analysis on energy and radioactive waste, and monitor policy developments on the national and state levels.

July 28th 2017
Major Realignment In Motorsport As Porsche Prioritises Formula E Over Le Mans

Significant changes in motorsport are taking place as Porsche implements its strategy to develop a combination of pure GT vehicles and fully electric sports cars, such as the first fully battery-powered Mission E road car. “Entering Formula E and achieving success in this category are the logical outcomes of our Mission E”, says Michael Steiner, Executive Board Member, R&D at Porsche AG. “For us, Formula E is the ultimate competitive environment for driving forward the development of high-performance vehicles in areas such as environmental friendliness, efficiency and sustainability”.

August 17th 2017
Siemens Gamesa Installs Asia’s Tallest Turbines, Whilst Stepping Up Integration

Siemens Gamesa has set a new record in Asia by installing this year the tallest wind turbines on the continent. The turbines are equipped with 153-metre tall towers, and with the 56-metre blades, they reach a total height of 210 metres. Presently, a major focus for the company is the integration of the entities of Siemens and Gamesa. This has the objective of realising the new company’s substantial potential, thanks to its bigger scale and global reach: a presence in more than 90 countries, an installed base of 75 GW, and an order book of €21bn.

August 14th 2017
Offshore Wind Drives 6.1 GW Of European Wind Installations In First Half Of 2017

6.1 GW of extra wind energy capacity was installed in Europe in the first half of 2017, according to figures released by WindEurope. The figure puts Europe on course for a bumper year for installations, although hides some worrying trends. WindEurope Chief Policy Officer, Pierre Tardieu, said: “We are on track for a good year in wind capacity installations but growth is driven by a handful of markets. At least ten EU countries have yet to install a single MW so far this year. Although this won’t translate into lower installations for another few years, the industry needs clarity on volumes for the post-2020 period to maintain the current cost reduction trend”.

August 9th 2017
IDFC Alternatives Fund Acquires Solar Projects Totaling 190MW From First Solar

India Infrastructure Fund II (IIF II), represented by its investment manager, IDFC Alternatives Limited, one of India’s largest alternatives fund managers, is to acquire seven operating solar projects owned and operated by the First Solar Group in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana aggregating to a capacity of 190 MW. All the projects utilise First Solar’s advanced CdTe (Cadmium Telluride) based thin film modules, one of the most environmentally friendly PV technologies, and sell the power generated to state utilities, under long term power purchase agreements. Aditya Aggarwal, Partner, IDFC Alternatives stated that “consistent with its stated strategy of aggregating operating renewable assets, IIF II is well on its way to achieving an installed base of 400-450 MW of operating renewable assets by the end of the current financial year.”

August 9th 2017
35% Of German Electricity Consumption Now From Renewables: Grid Challenges Ahead

The Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research in Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) and the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) have stated in an initial assessment that electricity generated from clean energy accounted for 35% of Germany’s consumption in 1H 2017. It’s the first time that this mark has been reached. The total share of electricity generated from renewables was up 2% from last year. The growth from onshore wind was 13.6%; offshore wind saw the steepest growth at 47.5%; growth from biomass increased by 2.2%, whilst the growth from PV systems was 13.5%, compared with the 1H 2016.