Renewable Energy Accounts for 18 Percent of Domestic Electrical Generation in 2019

Renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) accounted for 18.2 percent of net domestic electrical generation during 2019, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). A year earlier, renewables’ share was 17.5 percent. 

The latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” (with data through Dec. 31, 2019) reveals that solar and wind both showed continued, strong growth, expanding faster than all other energy sources.

Solar, including small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, grew 14.9 percent compared to 2018 and accounted for almost 2.6 percent of total electrical output. Small-scale solar (distributed rooftop systems) – which increased by 18.6 percent – provided nearly a third (32.7 percent) of total solar electrical generation. The growth rate of distributed solar was greater than that of any other energy source. 

In addition, U.S. wind-generated electricity increased by 10.1 percent, accounting for 7.2 percent of all electricity produced.

Combined, wind and solar accounted for almost a tenth (9.8 percent) of U.S. electrical generation through the end of December. In addition, biomass provided a bit more than 1.4 percent and geothermal contributed almost 0.4 percent (with the latter reflecting 0.3 percent growth). 

In total, non-hydro renewable sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) accounted for 11.6 percent of total U.S. electrical production during 2019 and grew by 8.5 percent compared to 2018.  

Notwithstanding a 6.4 percent decrease in hydropower’s output and a 5.6 percent drop in that of biomass, electrical generation by the mix of all renewables, including hydropower, was 2.6 percent higher than a year earlier.

By comparison, nuclear-generated electricity increased by just 0.3 percent while that from coal plummeted by 15.7 percent. However, much of the latter was replaced by natural gas which grew by 7.7 percent. 

If present trends continue, electrical generation by the mix of renewable energy sources could overtake nuclear power in 2020 and coal in 2021.  

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