Nuclear power is rapidly losing the race with renewable energy sources in the U.S., according to the nonprofit group SUN DAY Campaign, which cites two new reports from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The group says the EIA’s latest Monthly Energy Review (with data for the first half of this year) notes that during the first six months of 2016, renewable sources – e.g., biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind – accounted for 5.242 quadrillion British thermal units (quads) of domestic energy production.
This includes thermal, liquid and electrical forms of energy. By comparison, nuclear power provided only 4.188 quads – that is, renewables outpaced nuclear by more than 25%, adds SUN DAY.
Meanwhile, FERC’s latest Energy Infrastructure Update (with data through the end of August) says the total available installed generating capacity in the U.S. from the combination of utility-scale – i.e., greater than 1 MW – hydropower, wind, solar, biomass and geothermal has grown to 215.82 GW, or 18.39% of total generating capacity.
On the other hand, says SUN DAY, nuclear power’s installed capacity is only 107.06 GW, or 9.12% of the total. Thus, renewable energy generating capacity is now more than double that of nuclear.
However, according to the group, actual electrical generation by nuclear plants for the first seven months of 2016 was 19.9% of total generation. That number is still higher than that provided by renewable sources, which contributed 15.8% – a figure that does not include electricity produced by distributed renewables, such as rooftop solar.
While nuclear power’s share of net electrical generation has remained essentially flat over the past decade – it was 19.4% in 2006 – renewable energy’s share is growing rapidly: It has increased from 9.5% 10 years ago to 15.8% today, says SUN DAY, which adds that EIA forecasts continued strong growth in the years ahead.
“If renewable sources maintain their current growth rates, they could fully eclipse nuclear in the trifecta of not only energy supply and generating capacity, but also electricity production within the next five or six years – or less,” said Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign.