Bioenergy, Geothermal, Hydropower, Solar, Storage, Wind Power

US Production, Consumption of Non-Hydro Renewables Hit Record High in 1H 2018

Non-hydro renewable energy sources (i.e., biofuels, biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) set new U.S. records for both production and consumption in the first half of 2018, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of data just released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

EIA’s latest “Monthly Energy Review” (with summary statistics for the first six months of 2018) reveals that output by non-hydro renewables increased by 7.04 percent to 4.530 quads (quadrillion Btu) compared to the first half of 2017 (4.232 quads).  Solar energy accounted for the largest percentage increase (25.4 percent), followed by wind (11.2 percent), biofuels and biomass (2.4 percent each), and geothermal (1.0 percent). As a share of total domestic production from all energy sources, non-hydro renewables accounted for nearly a tenth (9.80 percent).

Including hydropower, renewable energy sources accounted for 13.05 percent of domestic energy production and 11.76 percent of consumption. Hydropower’s output actually dropped by 7.0 percent during the first six months of 2018 compare to the same period in 2017. Consequently, energy production by renewable sources including hydropower grew by only 3.17 percent compared to the previous year while consumption increased by just 2.54 percent.

Notwithstanding its decreased generation, hydropower still maintained its role as the leading renewable source accounting for 24.85 percent of renewable energy production, followed closely by wind (23.37 percent), which has now moved ahead of biomass (22.73 percent) and biofuels (19.44 percent); solar and geothermal provided 7.86 percent and 1.76 percent respectively.

The increased output and consumption of renewable energy, however, was less than that of fossil fuels (i.e., coal, gas, oil) whose production grew 8.80 percent and use by 4.76 percent during the first half of 2018. In addition, electrical generation by the nation’s nuclear reactors increased by 4.05 percent. As a consequence, renewable energy’s share of total domestic energy production actually declined from 13.61 percent in the first half of 2017 to 13.05 percent in 2018; renewables’ share of energy consumption also dropped from 11.97 percent to 11.76 percent.

The expanded production and use of fossil fuels, which accounted for 77.83 percent of domestic production in the first half of 2018, have resulted in an increase of 3.28 percent in U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy consumption. While CO2 emissions from coal dropped 4.79 percent, that decline was more than offset by an increase of 12.67 percent in CO2 emissions from natural gas well as higher emissions from oil and biomass (1.91 percent  and 1.76 percent respectively). Oil remains the primary source of energy-related CO2 emissions (42.40 percent), followed by natural gas (29.84 percent), coal (21.51 percent), and biomass (6.24 percent).