EIA data shows U.S. solar generation increased 25% in first quarter of 2021

Q1 data just released by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that solar and wind increases by 24.3% and 10.5% for electrical output, respectively. Combined, solar and wind grew by 13.6% and accounted for more than one eighth (12.8%) of US electricity generation.

Credit: Rosendin

In March 2021 alone, solar and wind output was 34.4% higher than a year earlier. This is all according to analysis of the SUN DAY campaign.

Other renewable energy sources saw their output decrease in the first quarter of 2021: hydropower (decrease by 7.5%), biomass (decrease by 3.6%) and geothermal (decrease by 1.5%). Non-hydro power plants are still up 11.2% in the first three months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. And generation from all renewable energy sources, including hydro, grew by 4.4% compared to the previous year. The share of renewables in the country’s electricity generation in the first quarter was 21.6%, compared to 21.2% a year earlier.

In comparison, electricity generation from natural gas fell by 10.5% during the quarter – and by 14.8% in March alone – further diminishing the lead over renewables. The share of natural gas in the country’s electricity generation in the first quarter of 2020 was 39.2%. A year later it had fallen to 34.3%, while the share of renewable energy sources has increased gradually.

In addition, the electrical output of the country’s nuclear reactors declined 2.8% during the quarter, allowing renewables to further extend their lead. Collectively, renewables surpassed nuclear power during both the first quarter of 2021 and the month of March alone by 8.7% and 26.2%, respectively.

On the other hand, coal made a strong comeback, growing 34.8% compared to the first quarter of 2020. However, the coal recovery may prove to be volatile. Electricity generation from coal was 7.4% higher in the first quarter than that of all renewable sources combined. However, by March renewables had returned, overshadowing coal production for the month by 29.6%.

“The continued strong growth from wind and solar energy confirms that the Biden government’s clean energy targets are within reach,” noted SUN DAY campaign executive director Ken Bossong. “Renewables are now on track to provide at least a quarter of the country’s electricity within five years and, with additional support, significantly more.”

News item from SUN DAY

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