30 August 2017 2017 10:45 AM GMT

US Electricity Generation – Renewables Level With Nuclear; Solar Growth Surges

The latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information’s (EIA)Electric Power Monthly” (with data through June 30, 2017) reveals that renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar – inc. small-scale PV, and wind) remain in a statistical dead heat with nuclear power vis-à-vis their respective shares of the nation’s electricity generation, with each providing roughly 20% of the total. [1a] and [1b]

During the six-month period (January – June), renewables surpassed nuclear power in three of those months (March, April, and May) while nuclear power took the lead in the other three. In total, according to EIA’s data, utility-scale renewables plus small-scale solar PV provided 20.05% of U.S. net electricity generation compared to 20.07% for nuclear power. However, renewables may actually hold a small lead because while EIA estimates the contribution from distributed PV, it does not include electrical generation by distributed wind, micro-hydro, or small-scale biomass.

EIA has acknowledged the neck-in-neck status of nuclear power and renewables and stated as much in a news release it issued in early summer. However, the agency simultaneously stressed its view that “nuclear will generate more electricity than renewables for all of 2017.” [2]. Well, maybe ….  maybe not.

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 favors a rapidly expanding market share by renewables compared to a stagnating, if not declining, one for nuclear power. Electrical output by renewables during the first half of 2017 was 16.34% higher than for the same period in 2016 whereas nuclear output dropped by 3.27%. In the month of June alone, electrical generation by renewable sources was 27.15% greater than a year earlier whereas nuclear output dipped by 0.24%.

In fact, almost all renewable energy sources are experiencing strong growth rates. Comparing the first six months of 2017 to the same period in 2016, utility-scale + small-scale solar has grown by 45.1%, hydropower by 16.1%, wind by 15.6%, and geothermal by 3.2%. Biomass (inc. wood and wood-derived fuels) has remained essentially unchanged – slipping by 0.8%. Electrical generation by solar alone is now greater than that provided individually by biomass, geothermal, and oil (i.e., petroleum liquids + petroleum coke).

And on the capacity front, renewables long ago eclipsed nuclear power. For the first half of 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissions recently reported that renewables’ share of total U.S. available installed generating capacity is 19.70% compared to 8.98% for nuclear — i.e., more than double. [3]

Finally, last month’s cancellation of the Summer 2 and 3 reactors in South Carolina and Duke Power’s subsequent decision to pull the plug on construction of the twin William Lee reactors (also in South Carolina) means the growing gap between renewables and nuclear will accelerate at an even faster clip in the coming years. In addition, the possible cancellation of the uneconomic Vogtle 3 and 4 reactors in Georgia would mean no new nuclear coming online for the foreseeable future, as reactor closures continue. In fact, counting possible additional closures and cancellations, retirements could very likely exceed additions.

“Everyone loves a horse race,” noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign.  “However, the smart money is now on renewables to soon leave nuclear power in the dust.” “Nuclear power is in irreversible decline in the U.S., due to rising costs and failing economics of new and existing reactors, alike,” said Tim Judson, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. “Last month’s cancellation of half the new reactors under construction in the U.S. means that gap is going to be wider than projected and accelerating.”

The SUN DAY Campaign is a non-profit research and educational organization 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 US national and state levels.

October 9th 2017
ASEAN Eyes Clean Energy To Fuel Economic Growth And Build Climate Resilience

Governments of ASEAN and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), have established a strategy to accelerate the region’s transition to low-carbon, sustainable energy and build its climate resilience. “Increasing investment in renewable energy across Southeast Asia’s growing populations has significant social and economic benefits across the region, liberating them from expensive fossil fuel imports while boosting economic growth, supporting energy security, job creation and national resilience,” said Adnan Z. Amin, co-chair of the Dialogue.

September 15th 2017
Ministerial Meeting Gathers in Italy To Scale-Up Geothermal Energy Worldwide 

Leaders and ministers from more than 25 governments will meet in Florence, Italy on 11 September, to accelerate the global adoption of geothermal energy. The Global Geothermal Alliance (GGA) meeting is the largest such ministerial gathering dedicated to geothermal energy development. Geothermal energy today accounts for just 0.3 percent of globally installed renewable energy capacity. However – once start-up costs are met – it is one of the lowest-cost and most reliable renewable energy sources available. The global potential for geothermal is estimated to be in the region of 200 GW.

October 16th 2017
Uganda Inaugurates Breakthrough Tororo PV Plant. A Future Model For Africa?

Production has commenced at the Tororo PV power plant; which, with 16 GWh of renewable energy generated annually, will cater for the energy requirements of 35,838 people and help reduce CO2 emissions by 7,200 tons. Overall, $19.6 million was invested to build the 10 MWp plant, with the engagement of several major organisations including KfW and FMO Development Banks, the World Bank and the EU. Attilio Pacifici, EU Ambassador said, “One of the key objectives of this plan is to encourage private sector participation in higher risk investments and we’re happy to demonstrate that Uganda is well positioned to be successful and a good model for replication.”

October 11th 2017
Engie Wins 832 MW Hydropower Plant Orders In Brazil, Strengthens Market Lead

During the auction held recently by the Brazilian Federal Government, ENGIE won concession contracts for two hydropower plants (HPP) for a total amount of around €950m (BRL3.531bn). The Jaguara HPP, located in Rio Grande (between the states of Minas Gerais and São Paulo), with a 424 MW installed capacity and the Miranda HPP, located in Rio Aragui, in Indianápolis (Minas Gerais State), with a 408 MW installed capacity. The concession contracts are signed for a 30-year period. They raise the installed capacity of ENGIE from 10,290 MW to 11,122 MW and reinforce ENGIE’s position as the largest private energy producer in Brazil.

October 17th 2017
Grids Integration, Energy Networks Boosted By Distributed Generation Growth

Renewable energy has continued to develop at ever increasing rates, with remarkable growth seen since the start of this decade. The pace of the energy transition is driving innovation and growth in related sectors. For energy networks and grids integrating small gas turbines, micro-turbines, fuel cells, biomass, small hydropower, wind and solar energy; distributed generation installation provides significant solutions in the restructured electricity regime. This is particularly so, where there is a larger uncertainty in demand and supply.


 

   

PS_Wind Energy_Masters_171