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For the first time, U.S. renewable energy output exceeds nuclear generation, EIA finds

Utility Dive, By Elizabeth McCarthy. 28 Apr 22,      

Dive Brief:

  • The growing number of large solar and wind energy projects resulted in renewable generation beating out nuclear energy last year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday. 
  • The nation has seen a steady rise in renewable generation, with the biggest share from solar, which is expected to continue because of the lower cost and greater safety of this intermittent power resource, clean energy advocates say. That is despite the Biden administration’s multi-billion dollar program to keep online baseload nuclear power plants scheduled to retire.
  • Natural gas supplies the biggest share of electricity in the county but its share is also expected to decrease over the next three decades. EIA projects solar will replace it as the dominant source of generation in the U.S. by 2050.
  • Dive Insight:Utility-scale renewable generation in the U.S. reached 795 million MWh in 2021, compared to 778 million MWh of nuclear generation.“This is a ‘good news’ story,” said Ralph Cavanagh, Natural Resources Defense Council energy program co-director.
  • The news gets better for renewables when considering that private investments in clean technology rose to over $27 billion in 2021, up from about $20 billion in 2020, according to a report by the American Investment Council released last week. Private equity companies over the last decade have invested close to $150 billion and backed more than 1,000 clean technology companies in the U.S., it added.
  • The biggest mover on the U.S. generation front has been solar as installation costs have dropped 70% over the last decade. That has led “the industry to expand into new markets and deploy thousands of systems nationwide,” according to a Feb. 11 joint statement by the Edison Electric Institute, NRDC and the Solar Energy Industries Association. Supply chain issues pushed up prices last year “but did not eliminate solar power’s competitive advantages in retail and wholesale markets,” the organizations wrote in their joint statement to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. EIA’s April 26 analysis does not include rooftop solar or other smaller renewables serving predominantly onsite demand. Factoring in just “end-use solar, the milestone for surpassing nuclear generation would have been reached earlier,” said Syne Salem, an EIA engineer. The tally also excludes small-scale wind and some industrial and commercial combined-heat-and-power systems.

April 30, 2022 - Posted by | renewable, USA

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