The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its latest issue of Electric Power Monthly on Monday. In it the EIA states that non-hydro energy sources of electrical generation (biomass, wind, geothermal, and solar) increased 12.7% in the first quarter of 2009, compared with the first quarter of 2008. On the other hand, coal and natural gas generation plummeted (coal generation slumped 15.3% in March alone, compared with March last year). Nuclear power generation remains essentially stagnant.
“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,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign in a press release. “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.”
Blowin’ in the wind
Wind power generation shows the strongest growth of all forms of renewable energy, with net generation 38.5% higher in March 2009 compared with March 2008. The EIA reports that compared with the first quarter of 2008, electrical generation from renewable energy sources increased 7.2%, accounting for 10% of the nation’s total power generation. Conventional hydro increased 4.6% while all other sources of renewables rose 12.4%.
Net electrical generation remains in a steady uphill trajectory. When comparing the 12-month period ending March 31, 2009 with the 12-month period ending March 31, 2008, all renewable energy sources, including hydro, have increased 8.5%. Non-hydro renewable have grown 15.8%. Looking at specific energy sources, wind expanded 44.7%, solar 26.7%, conventional hydro by 5.1%, and geothermal by 3.4%. The only downturn is from biomass, which saw a slight decline of 1.3% in the period ending March 31 of this year.
Looking at the same 12-month time frames, coal use dropped by nearly 5% and natural gas by 4%. Nuclear power grew by less than 1%.
Overall, net electrical generation from all sources in the U.S. (renewable and non-renewable) dropped 4.3% in March ’09, as compared with March ’08. The decline marks the eighth consecutive month that net generation declined when compared with the calendar month of the previous year.
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