US Renewables Hit Coal, But Gas Rises
US monthly electricity generation from renewable sources exceeded coal-fired generation for the first time in April, the Energy Information Administration announced June 26. “Renewable sources provided 23% of total electricity generation to coal’s 20%,” EIA said.
Despite the US president's disregard for the Paris Agreement and support for jobs in the coalmining sector, market forces and state governments are pushing coal further to the edges of the fuel mix. Since the beginning of 2015, about 47 GW of US coal-fired capacity has retired, and virtually no new coal capacity has come online. EIA expects another 4.1 GW of coal capacity to retire in 2019.
The details of electricity generation statistics also indicate that gas-to-power conversion level increased by up to 7% year-on-year to above 214 TWh during January-April inclusive. Last year, US generated 714.3 TWh electricity from gas-fired power plants, about 15% more than 2017.
Electricity generation from wind and solar has increased as more generating capacity has been installed. In 2018, about 15 GW of wind and solar generating capacity came online.
Wind generation reached a record monthly high in April 2019 of 30.2 TWh and wind was also up as capacity grows. “Solar generation reached a record monthly high in June 2018 of 7.8 TWh and will likely surpass that level this summer,” the EIA said. Conventional hydroelectric generation, which remains the largest source of renewable electricity in most months, totalled 25 TWh in April.
US dry gas production increased by 15.7% year-on-year to 227bn m3 in 1Q 2019, according to the latest official statistics. Demand for gas keeps rising as liquefaction capacity grows.