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EIA: “Renewables became the second-most prevalent U.S. electricity source in 2020″…


Guest “That’s not how I would have phrased it” by David Middleton

JUL 28, 2021
Renewables became the second-most prevalent U.S. electricity source in 2020

In 2020, renewable energy sources (including wind, hydroelectric, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy) generated a record 834 billion kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity, or about 21% of all the electricity generated in the United States. Only natural gas (1,617 billion kWh) produced more electricity than renewables in the United States in 2020. Renewables surpassed both nuclear (790 billion kWh) and coal (774 billion kWh) for the first time on record. This outcome in 2020 was due mostly to significantly less coal use in U.S. electricity generation and steadily increased use of wind and solar.

[…]

Principal contributor: Mickey Francis

EIA

In reality, if you combine five different energy sources (wind, hydroelectric, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy), they are now basically tied for second place with coal and nuclear power.

The eye-catching thing on this graph, is that natural gas is pulling ahead faster than unreliables are catching up.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Monthly Energy Review
Note: This graph shows electricity net generation in all sectors (electric power, industrial, commercial, and residential) and includes both utility-scale and small-scale (customer-sited, less than 1 megawatt) solar.
Billion (kWh)
Natural Gas 1,617
Unreliables 834
Nuclear 790
Coal 774

Here’s how this would look, if you posted it like baseball standings:

W L GB
Natural Gas 162 0
Unreliables 83 79 79
Nuclear 79 83 83
Coal 77 85 85

Don’t like the math? Take it up with Yogi Berra…

However, for coal, “it ain’t over till it’s over”!

Coal Production. We forecast U.S. coal production will increase by 78 million short tons (MMst) (15%) in 2021 to total 617 MMst for the year. The expected increase in production reflects greater electric power sector demand for coal. Higher natural gas prices make coal more economically competitive relative to natural gas for electricity generation dispatch. In the forecast, coal production increases by 13 MMst (9%) in the Appalachia region, 14 MMst (16%) in the Interior region, and 51 MMst (17%) in the Western region

EIA

You don’t believe Yogi said those things?

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