Non-hydro renewable energy sources (such as wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy) set new U.S. records for both production and consumption in the first half of 2018, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of data just released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
EIA’s latest “Monthly Energy Review” (with summary statistics for the first six months of 2018) reveals that output by non-hydro renewables increased by 7.04% to 4.530 quads (quadrillion Btu) compared to the first half of 2017 (4.232 quads). Solar energy accounted for the largest percentage increase (25.4%), followed by wind (11.2%), biofuels and biomass (2.4% each), and geothermal (1.0%). As a share of total domestic production from all energy sources, non-hydro renewables accounted for nearly a tenth (9.80%).
Including hydropower, renewable energy sources accounted for 13.05% of domestic energy production and 11.76% of consumption. Hydropower’s output actually dropped by 7.0% during the first six months of 2018 compare to the same period in 2017. Consequently, energy production by renewable sources including hydropower grew by only 3.17% compared to the previous year while consumption increased by just 2.54%.
Notwithstanding its decreased generation, hydropower still maintained its role as the leading renewable source accounting for 24.85% of renewable energy production, followed closely by wind (23.37%), which has now moved ahead of biomass (22.73%) and biofuels (19.44%); solar and geothermal provided 7.86% and 1.76% respectively.
The increased output and consumption of renewable energy, however, was less than that of fossil fuels (i.e., coal, gas, oil) whose production grew 8.80% and use by 4.76% during the first half of 2018. In addition, electrical generation by the nation’s nuclear reactors increased by 4.05%. As a consequence, renewable energy’s share of total domestic energy production actually declined from 13.61% in the first half of 2017 to 13.05% in 2018; renewables’ share of energy consumption also dropped from 11.97% to 11.76%.
The expanded production and use of fossil fuels, which accounted for 77.83% of domestic production in the first half of 2018, have resulted in an increase of 3.28% in U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy consumption. While CO2 emissions from coal dropped 4.79%, that decline was more than offset by an increase of 12.67% in CO2 emissions from natural gas well as higher emissions from oil and biomass (1.91% and 1.76% respectively). Oil remains the primary source of energy-related CO2 emissions (42.40%), followed by natural gas (29.84%), coal (21.51%), and biomass (6.24%).
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