For the First Time Ever, U.S. Solar and Other Non-Hydro Renewables Out-Produce Hydropower

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Electricity from solar and other non-hydro renewables surpasses that from hydropower, as reported in the U.S. EIA’s Electric Power Monthly. According to the SUN DAY campaign, this is a first.

 

During the first quarter of 2014, electricity generated in the U.S. by biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind exceeded that provided by conventional hydropower. According to the SUN DAY campaign, that’s the first time this has ever happened.

This is based on the latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Electric Power Monthly, with preliminary data through March 31, 2014. It was reported in a statement released today by The SUN DAY Campaign, a nonprofit research and educational organization that promotes sustainable energy technologies.

Non-hydro renewables provided 53.16% of the net U.S. electrical generation from renewable energy sources for the period January 1 – March 31, 2014 while hydropower provided the balance of 46.84%.

This reflects an increase of 11.3% in electrical generation by non-hydro renewables compared to the first quarter to 2013. At the same time, hydropower output decreased by 4.5%, which may be due in part to the severe drought in California.

Solar made significant gains, with electrical generation from solar PV and solar thermal growing by 103.8%.

Electrical generation from all renewable energy sources combined, including hydropower, was 3.29% higher during Q1 2014 than in Q1 2013 and accounted for 13.09% of net U.S. electrical generation. Hydropower accounted for 6.13% of net U.S. electrical generation for the period, followed by wind (4.82%), biomass (1.46%), geothermal (0.39%), and solar (0.29%).

It’s important to note that these numbers understate actual capacity gains in solar capacity. That’s because significant levels of solar capacity come from smaller, non-utility-scale applications like rooftop solar PV. That’s not so much the case for the other energy sources.

“For more than a decade, renewable energy sources — led by wind and solar — have been rapidly expanding their share of the nation’s electrical generation,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The most recent data affirm that the trend is continuing unabated.”