SUN DAY Analysis: Renewable Electrical Generation Sources Soar

According to the latest figures published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its “Electric Power Monthly” report released on June 15 and interpreted by the Sun Day Campaign, non-hydro renewable sources of electricity continued to enjoy double-digit growth during the past year. By comparison, coal and natural gas use has plummeted while nuclear power has remained essentially stagnant.

Specifically, EIA reports that for the first quarter of 2009 compared to the first quarter of 2008, renewable energy sources used for electrical production increased by 7.2 percent and accounted for 10 percent of the nation’s electrical generation.  Conventional hydroelectric power increased by 4.6 percent while all other renewables combined (biomass, wind, geothermal, and solar) increased by 12.4 percent.

The numbers for the month of March 2009 alone are even more dramatic with renewables accounting for nearly 10.9 percent of net U.S. electrical generation.  Conventional hydroelectric power provided more than 6.9 percent of total U.S. electrical generation while other renewables generated almost four percent of electric power. Most notably, net generation from wind sources was 38.5 percent higher in March 2009 than it had been in March 2008.

Net electrical generation from renewable energy sources has been on a steady uphill trajectory for some time now.  Comparing the 12-month period ending March 31, 2009 with the 12-month period ending March 31, 2008, renewable energy sources (including hydropower) have increased by 8.5 percent with non-hydro renewables growing by 15.8 percent.  More specifically, wind has expanded by 44.7 percent, solar by 26.7 percent, conventional hydropower by 5.1 percent, and geothermal by 3.4 percent. Only biomass experienced a small decline of 1.3 percent.

By comparison, net electrical generation from all sources in the United States dropped by 4.3 percent in March 2009 compared to March 2008. This was the eighth consecutive month that net generation was down compared to the same calendar month in the prior year. Coal-fired generation alone dropped by 15.3 percent.

Looking at the 12-month period ending March 31, 2009 compared to that ending March 31, 2008, coal use has dropped by almost five percent and natural gas use has declined by four percent; nuclear power showed just an anemic increase of less than one percent.

“Apologists for the nuclear and fossil fuel industries persist in trying to mislead the public by repeatedly spreading the myth that renewables account for only a tiny fraction of U.S. electricity production,” according to Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign.  “However, the hard numbers document the continuing dramatic growth in renewable energy’s already-significant contribution to the nation’s electricity supply — a contribution that will eventually leave coal and nuclear behind in the dust.”

This information is based on the Energy Information Administration’s latest “Electric Power Monthly” report that was released on June 15, 2009.

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