Renewables Pass Nuclear
Share of energy production still growing
Feb 2, 2012 - Bill Opalka - renewablesbiz.com
Has renewable energy passed a threshold it has been seeking for years? It has surpassed nuclear in energy production and inching up on domestic oil production.
That’s a According to the most recent issue of the Monthly Energy Review by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), as reported by the SUN DAY Campaign.
During the first quarter of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass/biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, wind) provided 2.245 quadrillion BTUs of energy or 11.73 percent of U.S. energy production. More significantly, energy production from renewable energy sources in 2011 was 5.65 percent more than that from nuclear power, which provided 2.125 quadrillion BTUs and has remained largely unchanged in recent years. Energy from renewable sources is now 77.15 percent of that from domestic crude oil production, with the gap closing rapidly, the Campaign says.
A recent trend seems to be accelerting.
Looking at all energy sectors (e.g., electricity, transportation, thermal), production of renewable energy, including hydropower, has increased by 15.07 percent compared to the first quarter of 2010, and by 25.07 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2009. Among the renewable energy sources, biomass/biofuels accounted for 48.06 percent, hydropower for 35.41 percent, wind for 12.87 percent, geothermal for 2.45 percent, and solar for 1.16 percent.
Looking at just the electricity sector, according to the latest issue of EIA’s Electric Power Monthly, for the first quarter of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) accounted for 12.94 percent of net U.S. electrical generation - up from 10.31percent during the same period in 2010. Non-hydro renewables accounted for 4.74 percent of net U.S. electrical generation.
In terms of actual production, renewable electrical output increased by 25.82 percent in the first three months of 2011 compared to the first quarter of 2010. Solar-generated electricity increased by 104.8 percent, wind-generated electricity rose by 40.3 percent, hydropower output expanded by 28.7 percent, and geothermal electrical generation rose by 5.8 percent.
Only electricity from biomass sources dropped - by 4.8 percent. By comparison, natural gas electrical output rose by 1.8 percent and nuclear-generated electricity increased by only 0.4 percent while coal-generated electricity dropped by 5.7 percent.
“Notwithstanding the recent nuclear accident in Japan, among many others, and the rapid growth in energy and electricity from renewable sources, congressional Republicans continue to press for more nuclear energy funding while seeking deep cuts in renewable energy investments,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “One has to wonder ‘what are these people thinking?’”
In any case, the debates over the nation’s power sources will continue.