Renewable energy production outpaces nuclear

Renewable energy production outpaces nuclear

January 23, 2018

Making clean energy accessible to everyone is one of our key tenants here at Drift. How do we accomplish this? Basically by bringing more clean energy options onto the grid. It goes without saying that renewable energy plays such an important role in supporting a sustainable environment — which is why we were thrilled to hear that last March, April, and May, there was more electricity generated in the United States from renewable sources than from nuclear power.

This is a landmark, something that hasn’t happened since 1984. What caused this? The change was due to a few factors, but is indicative of a larger trend. More wind and solar energy is coming online on the grid every month, especially as it becomes easier for small producers and community solar cooperatives to get started. Because we’re data geeks, we wanted to take a closer look at the numbers.

In 2017, US power generated by wind grew 16%, while generation from solar grew a whopping 65%. Hydro and other renewable sources (wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and wood sources) are expected to provide 16.4% of all power used in the US in 2018, while nuclear will only provide 19.9%.

With such a close margin, it’s likely that we’ll have many more months in the future where renewable power outstrips nuclear. Solar energy production peaks in the summer months, as you’d expect. On the other hand, most wind power is created in the spring or fall, depending on the geography of where the farms are located. Hydro generation is highest in spring as winter snowpacks melt. Because overall power consumption tends to be lowest in the spring, that’s when nuclear plants schedule their planned shutdowns for maintenance. This combination of factors means late spring and early summer are the times of year when we can expect to start regularly seeing renewables outperform nuclear. Renewable energy peaked last March an an amazing 21% of the total national energy production.

New York is one of the greenest producers of electricity in the nation. In 2015, 59.5% of power generated in NY was from hydroelectric sources. Fun fact: New York is that largest generator of hydro power east of the Rocky Mountains! Biofuels represented 23.6% of the State’s primary energy production. Wind, solar, and geothermal resources accounted for 11.8% of energy production while crude oil and natural gas constituted only 5.1%.

All in all, we’re heading in a direction where renewable energy will be the norm and we’re so excited to be a part of these times.

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