America’s great fuel convergence
- Jan 15, 2021 4:29 am GMT
Based on the 12-month period of reporting, from November of 2019 through October of 2020, electricity production by coal, renewables, and nuclear converged to account for approximately 20% (each) of United States electricity production. During the period, driven by the pandemic, power demand dropped by 3.7%. For the first time, nuclear surpassed coal. At the same time, renewables, driven by increased wind and solar output, converged to nearly equal the electricity output of both coal and nuclear. At the same time, natural gas topped 40% for the first time, continuing its rapid displacement of coal in the overall fuel mix.
U.S. electricity generation by fuel source, TWh
Driven by stay-at-home work orders, the sale of electricity to residential customers during the period increased by nearly 1%, while commercial and industrial power sales fell by 5.7% and 7.4%, respectively.
These trends will continue in 2021, as natural gas continues to displace coal in the fuel mix. Meanwhile, the trio of wind, solar, and energy storage will surge upward with continued support from ever-improving cost parity and recently enacted tax credit extensions that make renewable investment extremely profitable. The Hitachi ABB Power Grids’ Velocity Suite team is tracking more than 45 GW of natural gas, wind, and solar (GWS) projects currently under construction, testing, or in early-stage site preparation. Wind leads the way with more than (16.8 GW), solar (15.9 GW) follows, and natural gas (12.8 GW) rounds out the expected build-out. The GWS expansion shows no sign of slowing down, so expect renewables to surge past both coal and nuclear in the years to come and for natural gas to continue to play an integral part in balancing a grid quickly becoming dominated by wind and solar resources.
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