Distributed Solar Shows Impressive Growth


Renewable energy sources – biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind – accounted for 18.49% of net domestic electrical generation during the first eight months of 2019, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of newly released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). A year earlier, renewables’ share was 17.95%.

The latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” (with data through Aug. 31, 2019) reveals that solar and wind both showed continued growth.

Solar, including small-scale solar photovoltaic systems, grew 13.7% compared to the first eight months of 2018 and accounted for a bit more than 2.7% of total electrical output. Small-scale solar (e.g., distributed rooftop systems) – which increased by 19.1% – provided nearly a third (32.6%) of total solar electrical generation. The growth rate of distributed solar was greater than that of any other energy source, according to SUN DAY’s analysis.

In addition, wind-generated electricity increased by 4.4%, accounting for 6.94% of all electricity generated.

Combined, wind and solar accounted for almost a tenth (9.64%) of U.S. electrical generation through the end of August. In addition, biomass provided 1.4% (increasing by 2.5%), and geothermal contributed almost 0.4% (reflecting 3.2% growth).

In total, non-hydro renewable sources (biomass, geothermal, solar and wind) accounted for 11.44% of total U.S. electrical production during the first two-thirds of 2019 and grew by 6.15% compared to the same eight-month period in 2018.

Notwithstanding a 5.2% decrease in hydropower’s output, electrical generation by the mix of all renewables, including hydropower, was 1.49% higher than it was a year earlier, the analysis says.

By comparison, nuclear-generated electricity declined by 0.6%, while that from coal plummeted by 13.9%. However, much of the latter was replaced by natural gas, which grew by 6.5%.

The latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” was officially released on Oct. 24. Data cited in this analysis can be found here and here.

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