Renewable Energy Sources Top Coal for the Second Month

Renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) accounted for more than a fifth (20.3 percent) of net domestic electrical generation during the first five months of 2019, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” (with data through May 31, 2019) reveals that solar and wind both showed continued growth.

Solar, including small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, increased by 10.9 percent compared to the first five months of 2018 and accounted for 2.6 percent of the nation’s total net generation. Small-scale solar (distributed rooftop systems) – which increased by 20.2 percent – provided a third (33.3 percent) of total solar electrical generation.

U.S. wind-generated electricity topped that provided by hydropower by 2.7 percent. Wind’s share was 8 percent of total electrical output versus 7.8 percent from hydropower.

Combined wind and solar accounted for 10.6 percent of U.S. electrical generation through the end of May. In addition, biomass provided 1.5 percent and geothermal contributed a bit more than 0.4 percent.

Moreover, for the five-month period, electricity from renewable energy sources surpassed that from nuclear power (331,613 versus 331,200 thousand megawatt-hours). In May alone, renewably-generated electricity exceeded nuclear’s output by almost 10 percent (9.9 percent).

Also in May, for the second month in a row, renewably-generated electricity exceeded that from coal (73,779 vs. 71,988 thousand megawatt-hours).  

Thus, in May 2019, renewables for the first time moved into second place among the major generating sources, providing more electricity than either coal, nuclear, or oil and exceeded only by natural gas.

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