U.S renewables produce more electricity than coal during first two months of 2020—solar grows 32%

Renewables also outpace nuclear power in February and provide more than 21% of U.S electricity


KEY POINTS
  • Solar generated electricity expanded by 32.0% and provided almost 2.3% of the nation’s total.
  • The mix of all renewables provided 21.4% of total electricity in February.
  • Renewables also outpace nuclear power and provide more than 21% of U.S electricity.

Renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) produced 10.6% more electricity than coal during the first two months of 2020 and also topped nuclear power in February, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of recently-released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” (with data through February 29, 2020) reveals that solar and wind both showed continued, strong growth, expanding faster than all other energy sources. During the first two months of this year, solar-generated electricity expanded by 32.0% (compared to the same period in 2019) and provided almost 2.3% of the nation’s total while wind grew by 19.8% and accounted for over 8.7% of total generation.

Thus, wind and solar together accounted for a bit more than 11.0% of total U.S. electrical production. Combined with hydropower, biomass, and geothermal, renewables provided 20.3% of total electrical output.

EIA’s data were even more dramatic for just the month of February when solar ballooned by 40.3% as wind expanded by 27.1%. Hydropower also experienced strong growth, increasing its output by 14.9% compared to a year earlier. The mix of all renewables provided 21.4% of the nation’s total electricity for the month. Moreover, renewables produced 21.9% more electricity than coal whose output was 30.0% lower than a year earlier. They also outperformed nuclear power by 3.6%.

“If present trends continue, electrical generation by the mix of renewable energy sources could permanently exceed that of either coal or nuclear power or both in 2020,” noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign, “And if not this year, then certainly that will happen in 2021.”

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NOTE: The figures cited above include EIA’s “estimated small-scale solar photovoltaic” (e.g., rooftop solar systems) which accounted for about 32% of total solar output.

The latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” was officially posted late on April 24, 2020.
For the data cited in this news update, see:

https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=epmt_es1a
https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=epmt_es1b

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