Driven by strong solar and wind power growth, electrical generation by renewable energy sources (i.e., also including biomass, geothermal, and hydropower) accounted for almost 30 percent of total U.S. electrical generation in April and over a quarter during the first four months of 2022, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of newly-released EIA data.
The latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” report (with data through April 30, 2022) also reveals that during the first third of this year, solar (including distributed rooftop systems) expanded by 28.93%, while wind increased by 24.25%. Combined, solar and wind grew by 25.46% and accounted for more than one-sixth (16.67%) of U.S. electrical generation (wind – 12.24%, solar – 4.43%).
Hydropower also increased by 9.99% during the first four months of 2022. However, wind alone provided 70.89% more electricity than did hydropower.
Together with contributions from geothermal and biomass, the mix of renewable energy sources expanded by 18.49% and provided 25.52% of the nation’s electricity during the first four months of 2022. In the month of April alone, renewables accounted for 29.30% of U.S. electrical generation – an all-time high.
For the first third of the year, renewables outpaced coal and nuclear power by 26.13% and 37.80% respectively. In fact, electrical generation by coal declined by 3.94% compared to the same period in 2021 while nuclear dropped by 1.80%.
Moreover, for the first time ever – and probably a harbinger of things to come, the combination of just wind and solar produced more electricity in April than did the nation’s nuclear power plants — 17.96% more.
“Notwithstanding headwinds such as the Covid pandemic, grid access problems, and disruptions in global supply chains, solar and wind remain on a roll,” noted the SUN DAY Campaign’s executive director Ken Bossong. “Moreover, by surpassing nuclear power by ever greater margins, they illustrate the foolishness of trying to revive the soon-to-retire Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California and the just-retired Palisades reactor in Michigan rather than focusing on accelerating renewables’ growth.”
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NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, the electricity figures cited above include EIA’s “estimated small-scale solar photovoltaic” (e.g., rooftop solar systems) which accounts for 29.12% of total solar output and over five percent (5.06%) of total net electrical generation by renewable energy sources.
This article was written by Ken Bossong. Ken is the Editor at The SUN DAY Campaign.