U.S. Renewable Energy Exceeds Nuclear Power

by | Jul 30, 2009

windenergymapTwo new reports reveal that the renewable energy industry continues to grow in the United States. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest report, renewable energy accounted for 11.1 percent of U.S. production in April 2009, exceeding nuclear power. Contributing to the increase is the U.S. wind energy industry’s installation of 1,210 megawatts (MW) of new power capacity in the second quarter of 2009, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

With the additional 1,210 MW of new power, the total capacity added this year is just over 4,000 MW, according to the AWEA’s second quarter market report. This amount is larger than the 2,900 MW added in the first six months of 2008.

Despite the installation growth, AWEA said it is seeing a reduced number of orders and lower level of activity in manufacturing of wind turbines and their components. According to the report, many existing supply chain companies have stopped hiring or have furloughed employees due to the slowdown in contracts for wind turbines.

During the second quarter, the U.S. wind energy industry installed a total of 1,210 MW in 10 states, enough to power the equivalent of about 350,000 homes, reports AWEA. These new installations bring the total U.S. wind power generating capacity to 29,440 MW, according to the report.  The U.S. wind power generating fleet now offsets an average of 54 million tons of carbon annually, reducing carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2 percent or the equivalent of taking 9 million cars off the road, said AWEA.

The state posting the fastest growth in the second quarter was Missouri, where wind power installations expanded by 90 percent. Pennsylvania and South Dakota ranked second and third in terms of growth rate, expanding by 28 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

The study also shows that Iowa passed the 3,000-MW mark with a cumulative total of 3,043 MW installed and consolidated its position as #2, behind Texas (8,361 MW) and ahead of California (2,787 MW).

Another key finding reveals that three wind turbine and turbine component manufacturing facilities were opened, four facilities were expanding, and eight facilities were announced during the past quarter. This brings the total of opened, expanding and announced facilities up to 20 since the beginning of the year, according to the report.

Overall, the production of renewable energy for the first third of 2009 — January 1 to April 30 — was six percentage points higher compared to the same time period in 2008, according to the latest Monthly Energy Review from the U.S.  Energy Information Administration, according to SUNDAY Campaign. A key finding indicates that renewable energy sources accounted for 11.1 percent of domestic energy production and exceeded the amount contributed by nuclear power in April 2009.

For the first four months of 2009, U.S. renewable energy production was comprised of hydropower (34.6 percent), wood + wood wastes (31.2 percent), biofuels (19.0 percent), wind (9.3 percent), geothermal (4.7 percent), and solar (1.2 percent).  Most of these sources grew compared to the first third of 2008 with wind expanding by 34.5 percent, biofuels by 14.1 percent, hydropower by 8.2 percent, and geothermal by 2.6 percent. The contribution from solar sources remained essentially unchanged while wood + wood waste declined by 4.9 percent.

The report also shows that total U.S. energy consumption fell 5.7 percent during the first four months of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008 with fossil fuel use accounting for almost the entire decline, said SUNDAY Campaign.

Here’s a look at the production, in quadrillion Btu by sector, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. See the full report here.

nuc-vs-renewCritics of these figures note that nuclear energy contributed more megawatthours in April. During that month, nuclear power generated 59 million mWh of electricity, compared to the 25 million mWh generated by conventional hydropower and the 12. million mWh generated by “other renewables” during the month.

The amount of electricity generated by coal fell from April 2008 to April 2009. In April of 2009, coal generated 126 billion mWh, down from 147 billion mWh the same month in 2008.

Stay Informed

Get E+E Leader Articles delivered via Newsletter right to your inbox!

Share This