August 30, 2017 Read More →

‘U.S. Renewables vs. Nuclear: The Race Is On’

Solar Industry Magazine:

With each providing roughly 20% of the nation’s power, U.S. renewable energy sources are in a statistical dead heat with nuclear power, according to nonprofit research group the SUN DAY Campaign.

Citing the latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) “Electric Power Monthly” (with data through June 30), the group says renewables – biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar (including small-scale PV) and wind – are tied with nuclear vis-à-vis their respective shares of the U.S.’ electrical generation.

During the six-month period from January through June, renewables surpassed nuclear in three of those months (March, April and May), while nuclear took the lead in the other three, says SUN DAY.

In total, according to EIA’s data for the six months, utility-scale renewables plus small-scale solar PV provided 20.05% of U.S. net electrical generation, compared to 20.07% for nuclear. However, renewables may actually hold a small lead, says SUN DAY: Though EIA estimates the contribution from distributed PV solar, it does not include electrical generation by distributed wind, micro-hydro or small-scale biomass, the group points out.

In a news release issued earlier this summer, EIA acknowledged the neck-in-neck status of nuclear power; however, the agency simultaneously stressed its view that “nuclear will generate more electricity than renewables for all of 2017.”

However, that might not be the case, according to the SUN DAY Campaign.

While renewables and nuclear are each likely to continue to provide roughly one-fifth of the nation’s electricity generation in the near term, EIA’s trend line clearly favors a rapidly expanding market share by renewables compared to a stagnating, if not declining, one for nuclear power, the nonprofit says.

Electrical output by renewables during the first half of 2017 was 16.34% higher than that of 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 it was a year earlier, whereas nuclear output dipped by 0.24%, the group adds.

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