According to the most recent issue of the "Monthly Energy Review" by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), nuclear power and renewable energy sources are now neck-in-neck with nuclear power's share of domestic energy production dropping while that from renewable sources growing rapidly.
The share of domestic U.S. energy production derived from renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass/biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, wind) rose to 10.92% in 2010, up from 10.65% in 2009. By comparison, nuclear power's share of domestic energy production dropped from 11.48% in 2009 to 11.26% in 2010.
Looking at the full energy sector (i.e., electricity, transportation, thermal, and other end-uses), overall domestic production of renewable energy, including hydropower, increased by 5.6% in 2010 compared to the previous year. However, non-hydro renewables increased by 11.6% from 2009 to 2010.
Among renewable energy sources, biomass and biofuels combined accounted for 51.98% of the total, followed by hydropower (30.66%), wind (11.29%), geothermal (4.68%), and solar (1.38%). Comparing 2010 production to that in 2009, wind energy increased by 28%, biomass/biofuels by 10%, and solar and geothermal by 4% each. Hydropower dropped by 6%.
Looking at just the electricity sector, the latest issue of EIA’s "Electric Power Monthly," with full-year data for 2010, reveals that non-hydropower renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) increased by 16.5% over 2009 and provided 4.08% of net U.S. electrical generation. Renewables, including hydropower, accounted for 10.32% of net electrical generation.
During 2010, solar increased by 45.8%, wind grew by 28.1%, geothermal expanded by 4.4%, and biomass increased by 3.7%. Among the non-hydro renewable sources, wind accounted for 56.3%, biomass for 33.6%, geothermal for 9.3%, and solar for 0.8%. Nuclear power's share of net electrical generation dropped from 20.22% in 2009 to 19.59% in 2010.
Against the backdrop of the on-going nuclear disaster in Japan and the pressure for financial belt-tightening at home, the U.S. government’s latest energy statistics once again confirm that limited federal dollars are far better invested in rapidly expanding renewable energy technologies and not in the black hole that is nuclear power.
Ken Bossong is Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign.
Note: The U.S. Energy Information Administration released its most recent "Monthly Energy Review" on March 29, 2011. It can be found at: http://www.eia.doe.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly. The relevant charts from which the data above are extrapolated are Tables 1.1 and 1.2. EIA released its most recent "Electric Power Monthly" on March 11, 2011; see: http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/epm_sum.html. The relevant charts are Tables ES1.B, 1.1, and 1.1A.