Renewables Top Nukes in US Energy Production

April 2, 2013


National Journal:

Energy production from natural gas grew 16% while coal-fired power fell more than 4%, thanks to a glut of cheap natural gas from the fracking boom. It’s a trend likely to continue as shale gas reserves are tapped and new emissions regulations effectively bar the construction of new coal-fired power plants.

Renewable energy production jumped nearly 24% but remains only 11% of the US’ total energy production. But the trend lines tell the story: Wind energy, for instance, grew 89% while electricity production from nuclear power plants fell 4%.

And this factoid should warm the hearts of anti-nuke activists: The US now gets more energy from renewable sources—wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and biomass—than it does from nuclear power plants.

While there are new nuclear projects winding their way through the regulatory process, don’t expect a nuke boom. Multibillion-dollar price tags, waste disposal issues and growing water shortages are likely to limit nuclear power’s contribution to the nation’s energy mix in the coming decades.

Mr. Burns just might want to start looking for another job, perhaps as a wind farm magnate.


11 Responses to “Renewables Top Nukes in US Energy Production”

  1. daryan12 Says:

    Nuclear’s always been something of a one trick pony (and an expensive one at that), so this is hardly surprising.

    I’m quite sure the nuclear supporters will counter tho, that its not the amount of kWh’s that counts but the capacity factor.

    Coal going down, good!

    Worrying the growth in Gas however.

  2. stephengn1 Says:

    Enter “energy storage breakthrough” into google and set the time filter for just the last month alone. The number of independent advances will astound you. Advancement in catalysts and materials based energy storarge is following an exponential curve similar to both chip technology and solar tecnology.

    Energy analysts have no way of factoring in such rapid, but unknown and unknowable advances into future energy calculations.

    I’m no expert in physics, but I watch scientific advancements in this area closely and I can see the writing on the wall – there is not a single doubt in my mind that within ten years or less, solar panels will begin to have the ability to cheaply store ONBOARD much of the energy they harvest. this will occur even as their technologies become cheaper, more efficient, easier to install and more easily recyclable. These advances will change the world. The first waves of the tsunami are already coming ashore. Current utilities will first stand, mouths agape, at the sheer speed of the coming energy paradigm shift, then go about the work of desperatly trying to obstruct the wave of change it will enable.

    Make no mistake, there is an energy upheaval coming the likes of which the world has never seen. Much of our economy is based on the production and distribution of oil and coal. Much of our workforce have jobs in current energy model areas and depend on it continuing. The forces now making obscene amounts of money under the current energy model will be forced to give ground to an energy model that will not be profitable to them. The new energy model will also be much more democratic. The old gaurd wil not cede this ground easily.

    NOW is the time to gather political forces that will herald and help foster the massive changes that are coming. NOW is the time to get ready for the revolution.

  3. andrewfez Says:

    What I like about that graph is that renewables are making up 9/(9+8+20+25)= 14.5% of the BTU’s produced in 2012. That would imply that over a 10 year period, renewables, if their share of production grew 21% per year, and if overall production of all sources didn’t increase (for the sake of ease of calculation; or for the sake of making end users of energy more efficient), would take 100% of the pie. This same idea, over a 15 year period, would require a 14% rate of yearly growth.

    • andrewfez Says:

      Oops, didn’t read the ‘fine print’ – ha, ha: 11% not 14.5% (just me estimating from the graph).

  4. […] National Journal: Energy production from natural gas grew 16% while coal-fired power fell more than 4%, thanks to a glut of cheap natural gas from the fracking boom. It’s a trend likely to continue…  […]

  5. joffan7 Says:

    Peter, you’re mishandling a very specific measurement, and your headline is wrong.

    Nuclear still generates more electricity than renewables. However, when you add biofuels, the amount of energy from renewables is higher.

  6. Tom Andersen Says:

    Also this ‘renewable’ number is mostly (90%) hydro. You can see this without even bothering to look at another site: an 89% increase in wind makes a barely detectable bump on the graph.

    Anyone who thinks that large energy companies now in the coal and gas business are somehow anti wind is wrong. These same companies own wind, solar ethanol and biomass as well, and get higher returns on investment on these properties. Its all about money, and green is where it is now.

  7. […] 2013/04/02: PSinclair: Renewables Top Nukes in US Electricity Production […]

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