Green Power Generation in U.S. Fluctuates Over Past Decade

Net generation of electricity in the first quarter of this year increased 2.3 percent in the United States, but some renewable energy sources dropped as much as 39 percent during that period.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-08-16 [SolarAccess.com] Net generation of electricity in the first quarter of this year increased 2.3 percent in the United States, but some renewable energy sources dropped as much as 39 percent during that period. Generation from January to April was 1,213,538 million kilowatt-hours, according to the Energy Information Administration. Coal continues to dominate the U.S. market, at 637,230 m-kWh, followed by nuclear at 247,925 m-kWh. Natural gas was used to generate 174,424 and oil for 52,177 m-kWh. The increases from the first four months of 2000 are 2.5, 0.6, 5.3 and 119.0 percent, respectively. Wind turbines were used to generate 1,678 m-kWh in the quarter, resulting in a 27.0 percent increase over the same period last year. The use of geothermal rose 7.8 percent to 4,792 m-kWh, but conventional hydroelectric facilities dropped 26.9 percent to 75,569 m-kWh, biomass dropped 0.5 percent to 21,227 m-kWh and solar PV dropped 38.7 percent to 129 m-kWh. The EIA provides a monthly overview of the U.S. electric power industry, showing new generating units, consumption of fossil fuels and retail power sales. In percentage terms, net generation from coal is 53 percent of the national total, 20 percent from nuclear, 14 percent from natural gas, 6 percent from hydro, 4 percent from petroleum, and 2 percent from other renewables. Utilities generated 856,428 m-kWh compared with 357,110 m-kWh from non-utility producers. Utilities are more reliant on coal and nuclear for their fuel, while non-utilities use more gas and biomass to generate their output. The use of wind at utilities rose 74.4 percent, to 18 m-kWh in the first four months, while non-utilities reported a lower increase of 26.8 percent, although net generation resulted in 2,114 m-kWh during the quarter. Similarly, utilities use PV for only 1 m-kWh, which was a 38.2 percent increase over last year, but non-utilities dropped from 211 to 129 m-kWh during that time. In 1990, utilities used renewables to generate 294,085,003 thousand kilowatt-hours of power, of which wind was 398 and PV was 2,448 t-kWh. The vast majority was conventional hydroelectricity (no pumped storage) at 283,433,659 t-kWh, and the balance coming from geothermal (8,581,228) and biomass (2,067,270). By the end of last year, the total use of renewables had dropped to 255,395,756 t-kWh, with wind at 28,604, PV at 2,543, hydro at 253,154,736, geothermal at 151,375 and biomass at 2,058,498 t-kWh. At non-utilities, net generation from renewables in 1990 was 61,873,000 t-kWh, of which wind was 3,035,000, PV was 636,000, hydro was 9,580,000, geothermal was 7,207,000 and biomass was 41,408,000 t-kWh. By 2000, renewables were generating 107,320,000 t-kWh, of which wind was 4,925,000, PV was 55,000, hydro was 25,478,000, geothermal was 14,046,000 and biomass was 62,030,000 t-kWh. The use of solar thermal also rose from 8,000 t-kWh in 1990 to 787,000 last year. EIA is the statistical agency of the U.S. DOE.

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