Several reports recently released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) confirm that the mix of renewables (i.e. biomass, geothermal, hydro, solar, wind) performed significantly better and extended their lead over nuclear power in 2020.
Renewable energy accounted for a significantly higher proportion of the nation’s installed utility-scale generation capacity than nuclear power. Renewable energy generated more actual electricity generation than nuclear energy. And renewables accounted for a much greater percentage of total energy production and consumption in the US than nuclear power.
The electrical generation capacity of renewable energy is now almost three times that of nuclear energy
According to the FERC’s latest monthly Energy Infrastructure Update report for 2020 (with data through December 31, 2020), renewable sources combined accounted for 22,451 MW – or more than three-quarters (78.09%) – of the 28,751 MW of new capacity on a utility scale added in 2020. There were no new capacity expansions due to nuclear energy during the year.
As a result of such growth, renewable energy sources make up an increasing proportion of the country’s total available installed generation capacity every year and continue to expand their lead over nuclear power.
For example, in 2010, FERC reported that the installed renewable energy generation capacity was 13.71% of the nation’s total. Five years later it had risen to 17.83%. By the end of 2020, renewables had risen to 24.06% of the country’s total available installed generation capacity.
By comparison, ten years ago, the share of nuclear energy in the total installed production capacity was 9.56%. In 2015 it had fallen to 9.16%. In 2020 it fell to 8.57% and remains on a downward trajectory.
In fact, FERC predicts that the mix of all renewables will add more than 59,308 MW of net new generation capacity to the nation’s total by December 2023, while nuclear operating capacity will actually drop by 4,330 MW, or more than 4% of current total. .
Renewable energy produced more electricity than nuclear energy in 2020
The calendar year 2020 issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” (with data up to December 31, 2020) reveals that renewable energy sources – including distributed solar power (eg roof systems) – collectively last year 20.59% of total electrical output of the country – up from 18.34% a year earlier.
The share of renewable energy in US electricity generation in 2020 overshadowed that of nuclear power (19.50%); that is, renewables produced 5.61% more electricity than nuclear, with production actually falling 2.41% over the same twelve-month period.
In comparison, renewable sources accounted for only 10.36% of US electricity generation at the end of 2010 and 13.65% at the end of 2015. For example, renewable energy sources have doubled their share of the country’s electricity generation in the past decade. In comparison, the share of nuclear energy has remained largely unchanged: 19.6% in 2010 and 19.4% in 2015.
In addition, utility-scale renewables provided more electricity than nuclear power in 29 states plus Washington DC last year Of those, 21 states and Washington DC produced zero electricity during the year using nuclear power.
 AK, CA, CO, DC, DE, IA, ID, IN, HI, KS, KY, MA, ME, MN, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, NY, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WY
 AK, CO, DC, DE, ID, HI, IN, KY, MA, ME, MT, ND, NM, NV, OK, OF, RI, SD, UT, VT, WV, WY
Renewable energy sources accounted for a much higher share of US energy production and use than nuclear energy in 2020
According to the latest issue of EIA’s Monthly Energy Review (with data up to December 31, 2020), renewable energy sources (ie biofuels, biomass, hydropower, geothermal, solar, wind) accounted for 12.29% of domestic energy production and 12 , 47% of household energy consumption in 2020.
Meanwhile, nuclear power accounted for 8.61% of US energy production and 8.87% of household energy consumption.
In total, renewable sources produced 42.74% more energy than nuclear energy in 2020. And the difference seems to be widening. Renewable sources produced 2.14% more energy in 2020 than in 2019, while nuclear energy production fell 2.41% year over year.
For the perspective, in 2010, renewables were 11.10% of domestic production and 8.48% of consumption. Five years later, renewable sources accounted for 11.02% of production and 9.98% of consumption.
In comparison, nuclear energy accounted for 11.26% of production and 8.65% of energy consumption in 2010. In 2015 it had fallen to 9.45% of production and 8.56% of consumption. In fact, 2010 was the last year in which nuclear energy yielded more energy than renewables.
“While precise short-term projections for renewables versus nuclear are subject to a number of variables, it is safe to conclude that renewables have overtaken nuclear power and the margin will continue to increase in the coming years,” notes. Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “In addition, that conclusion is based on the federal government’s own figures, which have historically proven conservative and underestimated growth from renewables.”
FERC’s 7-page “Energy Infrastructure Update for December 2020” was released on February 8, 2021. It can be found at https://www.ferc.govOpen the “Industries and Data” link, then follow “FERC Staff Reports and Papers” and then to “Energy Infrastructure.” For the information cited in this update, see the tables entitled “New generation in use (new construction and extension)”, “Total available installed generation capacity” and “Generation capacity extensions and withdrawals”.
The US Energy Information Administration released its “Electric Power Monthly” report for calendar year 2020 on February 24, 2021. It can be found at: https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly (see February 2021 under “Previous issues”)
The electricity data mentioned in this update can be found or extrapolated from tables ES1.A and ES1.B.
State data for individual energy sources can be found in Tables 1.4A – 1.18B.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration released its Monthly Energy Review report with data for calendar year 2020 on March 25, 2021. It can be found at: https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthlySee Table 1.1 for the information mentioned in this update.
News item of the Sun Day campaign