Published on May 26th, 2014 | by Roy L Hales


Non-Hydro Renewables Pass Hydropower In United States

May 26th, 2014 by  

Originally published on the ECOreport. (Editor’s Note: it’s worth noting that the numbers below don’t include rooftop solar power, only utility-scale solar power plants.)

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The Sun Day Campaign has just released a press release proclaiming the fact non-hydro renewables outproduced hydropower for the first time in March 2014. Also, for the first time, wind contributed 5% of the nation’s electricity.

US Renewable Production First Quarter, from EIA  - Roy L Hales

US Renewable Production First Quarter, in thousands of Megawatt hours, EIA stats – Roy L Hales

“For more than a decade, renewable energy sources – led by wind and solar – have been rapidly expanding their share of the nation’s electrical generation,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The most recent data affirm that the trend is continuing unabated.”

He pointed out that “Hydropower accounted for 6.13% of net U.S. electrical generation for the period, followed by wind (4.82%), biomass (1.46%), geothermal (0.39%), and solar (0.29%).”

The EIA predicts strong growth in the wind and solar sectors. As you can see from the map at the top of this page, most of the new wind developments will be occurring in Texas and Midwestern states. Around 70% of the utility-scale solar growth will occur in California. By 2015, wind energy is expected to contribute 4.5% of US energy and solar 0.5%.

Impressive as the renewable sector’s growth is, these numbers still pale beside those of the fossil fuel sector.

I just finished an interview in which we were talking about a 100% renewable grid. Most of the necessary ingredients are already in play, but we are not there yet. These stats are a jarring snap back to the present reality.

All America's Energy Sources during First Quarter - Roy L Hales

All America’s Energy Sources during First Quarter, in thousands of Megawatt hours – Roy L Hales

Coal is still king. The EIA predicts coal production will grow 4.4% to 1,028 million short tons (MMst) in 2014, driven by higher consumption. Most of this will be lost through the implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and a number of coal plants are expected to retire by March 2015. Renewable energy is expected to make up the difference.

America’s second-largest energy source, natural gas, is expected to “grow by an average rate of 3.0% in 2014 and 1.8% in 2015.”

Nuclear Energy is #3

Renewables are #4. Or, if you wish to divide them, non-hydro renewables have just become #4 and hydropower is #5.

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About the Author

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the the ECOreport, a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of North America. He writes for both writes for both Clean Technica and PlanetSave on Important Media. He is a research junkie who has written over 1,600 since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

  • patb2009

    I think a tipping point has been reached, with Renewables so cheap they will grow fast as people normalize to them

  • JamesWimberley

    Distributed solar is about a quarter of the US total (SEIA – link). Most of that is self-consumed, guess 75%. On the other hand, households tend to buy higher efficiency panels than utility farms. In round numbers, the grid solar generation total needs to be uprated by around a fifth for self-consumption.

    Planners and grid managers need much better numbers than this. I have suggested before that all grid-connected solar owners should be required, in return for the various incentives they have enjoyed, to provide real-time data to grid operators on all their solar production, whether self-consumed or fed in.

    • Johnny Le

      That is an added complexity we should avoid. When homeowners file for permits, don’t they specify the size of their panels? Couldn’t we estimate from there?

      • mike_dyke

        If grid operators need more details on generation/consumption, then they should put meters on each households’ grid connection and just monitor the electricity both in and out of the property. No need for any expense on the consumer’s part.

        • patb2009

          that only tells you about net consumption.
          if someone is grid zero, are they just out of town or are they producing?

  • anderlan

    Of course more than half the nation is in drought mode and some of it is at insane drought mode. But it’s a point on the board!

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