Solar accounts for 2.2 per cent of US electricity generation in April

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Solar power accounts for 2.2 per cent of total generation in the US in April, a jump of 63% over the previous year.

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Milestones

Solar energy continues to be the fastest growing energy source for US electricity, and now accounts for 2.2 per cent of the generation in the US, the largest electricity market in the western world.

Large scale solar production in April across the US totalled 4.8 million megawatt hours (MWh), a jump of 63 per cent over the same month a year ago, and with the combination of rooftop solar contributed 6.9 million MWh, or 2.2 per cent of the monthly total.

First Solar - Agua Caliente - Arizona

According to data from the US Energy Information Administration, in the four months to April, solar contributed 21 million MWh, giving it an overall share of slightly less than 2 per cent, but its share is expected to grow considerably over the summer months.

Wind energy was the next biggest mover, up 22 per cent in April and up 14 per cent over the first four months, enabling wind and solar to account for more than 10 per cent of total generation for the second month in a row.

For the first time since the beginning of the nuclear era – renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar – inc. small-scale PV, wind) are now providing a greater share of the nation’s electrical generation than nuclear power.

“In light of their growth rates in recent years, it was inevitable that renewable sources would eventually overtake nuclear power,” said Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign.  “The only real surprise is how soon that has happened — years before most analysts ever expected.”

Hydro-electric power also grew in Aril, by 14 per cent, but so too did coal generation – up 7 per cent and reclaiming its number one position over gas, which fell by 15 per cent.

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28 Comments
  1. Ren Stimpy 2 years ago

    2.2% in 2017 = 4.4% in 2019 – and calculate a doubling every two years there forward. Subtract battery storage factor which puts a slight brake on growth. But that (battery) tech is also rapidly reducing in cost!

    • George Darroch 2 years ago

      They’re coming off a low base, it might even be faster than that.

      • Shane White 2 years ago

        Yeh, all we need to do now is factor in emissions from domestic transport, international travel, land use, and import consumption. Then weigh all that against how earth is responding and what’s needed for a safe climate.
        Ahh the future is looking so bright.

        NOT!

        • Kevin J. Rice 2 years ago

          I think we all agree (if you’re on this site you’re probably in this boat) that governments the world over should do more to address climate change. I agree that we should be worried, but am hopeful the increasingly popular concept of a carbon tax (in many different countries) can help make societal costs obvious and make pricing renewables easier (politically and business costs-wise).

          • Shane White 2 years ago

            And you *are* aware of the urgency Kevin? That is, in a numerical sense?

    • sbean 2 years ago

      Financial dysfunction followed by economic depression will ensure that the pace slows considerably.

      • Allan Barr 2 years ago

        It costs 1.7 trillion dollars per year to fossil fuel interests to run the current worldwide economy. Yeah there is going to be a whole lot of depression from laggards in the fossil fuel sector but those who invest wisely into renewables will benefit, along with sharp reductions in the average persons energy bills net net benefit in a significant way for our biosphere and pocketbook.

        • sbean 2 years ago

          If by invest you mean buy for personal use, yes, that’s a wise investment. Buying stocks, not so much, because they’ll be dragged down with all the rest (though maybe not as much), at least in the short term. The best scenario in that case is a mid-range (5-10 years out) bounce.

          • Allan Barr 2 years ago

            My Tesla stock is up almost 80%, this year alone. The renewable stock arena is up far higher than the general market as well. Nvidia which ties into autonomous driving is up over 300% past year or so. Vestas which is a wind manufacturer is up huge as well. Sorry but if you do not invest in stocks like this while keeping stocks in the carbon arena your going to be down in your personal financial arena.

          • neroden 2 years ago

            Tesla stock is up 76.65% year to date, and 95.44% in the last 12 months. An extreme example, certainly. But it means I can suffer some substantial losses and still be way ahead.

          • sbean 2 years ago

            Tesla looks like it topped last week. Might have one more wave up. Best wishes on cashing out with a good gain.

        • Kevin J. Rice 2 years ago

          The USA pays HUGE$$ for military/security in the Mideast. A subsidy on electric cars would reduce gas demand and thus needs for military costs. That is, presuming Trump doesn’t decide to declare war on …(insert random country name here).

      • Ren Stimpy 2 years ago

        If that happens there will likely be economic stimulus measures put in place and some of those (at least the ones at the state and city level) will probably benefit the solar industry because it has such great potential for jobs creation.

        • Allan Barr 2 years ago

          Ironically solar stocks are the only ones which have done poorly,

          • Ren Stimpy 2 years ago

            It’s highly competitive which is great news for consumers, but investors- choose wisely.

          • neroden 2 years ago

            Yep. High competition drives down prices and drives down profits.

          • sbean 2 years ago

            That’s an economic perspective that doesn’t apply to finance, i.e., stocks. Demand for stocks rises as the price increases (and more buyers jump on board)—until the trend reverses due to a reversal in social mood. Economic impacts follow.

      • neroden 2 years ago

        No, it’ll go faster. Solar panels and batteries ensure local self-sufficiency. Financial dysfunction leads people to invest in resilience.

        • sbean 2 years ago

          I like the creative perspective, but economic depressions generally involve many people struggling to meet basic needs and pay off debts rather than make long-term investments. You might look at how renewables did in 2008-2010 for a preview of what’s to come.

        • sbean 2 years ago

          I do agree that it will go faster in terms of percentage increase, but again, that’ll be due to rapid decline in fossil fuel use, not an acceleration of renewables installations.

  2. Brunel 2 years ago

    And UHVDC is crucial if we want to transmit electrons from sunny states to snowy states.

    From Texas to Canada!

  3. Allan Barr 2 years ago

    Doubling every two years implies 100% renewables energy by 2030 at the latest, good bye and good riddance dont let the door kick you in the ass fossil fuel interests. Battery density is rapidly increasing while costs decline. Things are looking bright if not for the fact we are currently in runaway climate change.

    • sbean 2 years ago

      You’re projecting into the future a trend that’s nearing the end of a cycle. Of course, renewables don’t need rapid doubling to increase percentage of supply if fossil fuels decline rapidly, which looks likely. It’s just that the absolute numbers won’t play out as some people optimistically project.

      • Hank Hill 2 years ago

        Are fossil fuels declining now?

        • sbean 2 years ago

          Not that I’m aware of. There appears to be a debt-leveraged peak nearing an end for crude oil and perhaps natural gas, and a broad economic slowdown would reduce coal demand as well. In other words, it’s about to start—if it hasn’t already.

      • neroden 2 years ago

        The trend is barely beginning. While the growth rate for solar will have to level off, I project that third-world demand for renewable energy will provide a strong enough market that the growth rate will only level off *after* the developed world is over 90% renewable.

    • neroden 2 years ago

      Yep, 100% of US electricity demand supplied by renewables by 2030 is about right. It’ll be a little earlier actually, more like 2025.

      The rest of the world will take longer — a lot of it doesn’t have electricity. The electrification of India and Africa will provide the demand necessary for the solar panel and battery factories for the decades following 2025.

      • sbean 2 years ago

        I agree that we’ll be at essentially 100% renewables by that time, but the amount will be down around 10% of current supply. A lot more biomass will be included, too.

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