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.

December 12th 2017
Global Trade In Biofuels Featured At International Renewable Mobility Conference

A significant proportion of global energy use, is in transportation. Action is crucially needed to bring about an energy turnaround in this sector and it’s a topic that has moved higher up the political agenda again since Dieselgate, and with growing calls for a rapid introduction of electromobility. In Germany, the Working Group on Energy Balances (AG Energiebilanzen) has calculated the final energy consumption of 728 TWh by the transport sector in 2016. Data from the German Environment Agency (UBA) reveals that over 90 percent of fuel deployed is derived from mineral oil. World-leading experts meeting in a parallel forum at the 15th International Conference on Renewable Mobility will analyse biofuel trading worldwide, examining various perspectives on requirements, the current state of play and forecasts.

December 6th 2017
Renewables Provide 17.8% Of Total US Electricity. Solar Now 2.0% And Wind 6.0%

According to the latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) “Electric Power Monthly” report, U.S. electrical generation from renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar – inc. distributed solar, wind) rose by 14.69% during the first three-quarters of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. Simultaneously, electrical generation by fossil fuels and nuclear power combined declined by 5.41%. Nuclear power and coal both dropped by 1.5%, natural gas (including “other” gas) was down by 10.7%, and oil (i.e., petroleum liquids and petroleum coke) plunged by 17.1%.

December 13th 2017
EDF Commissions 179 MW At Two Solar Power Plants In Nevada

Policy makers led by US Senator Harry Reid were present at a celebration formally recognising Switch Stations 1 and 2 solar power plants, with a combined generation capacity of 179 MWac, as fully commissioned and in commercial operation. Senator Reid stated “Less than a decade ago, Nevada’s solar energy landscape was nonexistent, but this commissioning helps fulfil the vision I had to make our state the leader in renewable energy development. A technology giant like Switch committing to using 100% renewable energy is truly visionary and grows our clean energy economy by creating hundreds of good-paying construction jobs here.”

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.

December 12th 2017
Renewable Future Challenges UK And Germany To Build Flexibility In Power Systems

A new economic study highlights that future energy systems in the UK and Germany, with very high levels of variable renewable generation, must be complemented by flexible resources, including energy storage. The study was released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). “This study highlights a seismic shift in how power systems will operate in the future. As wind and solar become the cheapest options for power generation, the race is on to develop and deploy the flexible resources that will complement them,” said Albert Cheung, head of global analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.


 

   

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