Following my latest US electricity capacity report, let’s look at actual electricity generation. As the headline indicates, renewables accounted for 17% (or 17.1% if you want to be slightly more precise) of US electricity production in April, when including a CleanTechnica estimate for rooftop solar electricity production. For the year through April, the figure is 14.8%, up from 14.3% for the same period in 2014.
The biggest absolute shifts in generation for January–April 2015 compared to January–April 2014 were as follows:
- Coal down 90,021 GWh (from 41.1% of electricity to 34.6%).
- Natural gas up 62,694 GWh (from 24.1% of electricity to 29.1%).
- [Overall electricity production down 12,194 GWh.]
- Nuclear up 7,551 GWh (19.1% to 19.9%).
- Hydro up 5,856 GWh (6.6% to 7.1%).
- Wind down 5,059 GWh (5.1% to 4.8%).
- Solar PV up 4,250 GWh (0.5% to 0.9%).
As that shows, the really good news is that coal-fired electricity is down a lot. However, the natural gas electricity increase was about 70% of the coal decline. Of course, there’s a lot of uncertainty and debate about how much that helps. Some research has shown that natural gas is about half as bad as coal when it comes to global warming, while other research has shown that it’s at least as bad as coal.
Electricity from nuclear and hydro power plants was also up a great deal, increasing low-carbon sources’ contribution to US electricity production. Unfortunately, 2015 apparently hasn’t been as windy as 2014, and electricity from wind power was down more in the first 4 months of 2015 than electricity from solar power was up.
For more details, take a look at the charts and tables below.
All US Electricity Production
US Electricity from Renewables
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