The SUN DAY Campaign has analyzed data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration and found that renewable energy sources have generated more electricity than either coal or nuclear in nearly 30 states and in Washington, D.C., during the first two-thirds of 2020.
The latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” (with data through August 31, 2020) reveals that utility-scale renewables provided more electricity than coal in 27 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C.
In addition, only a narrow gap of 2,000 GWh exists between renewables and coal in three other states: Louisiana, North Carolina and Tennessee. Four states and Washington, D.C. have generated no electricity from coal at all this year (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont), while four others have each produced less than 100 GWh from coal during the past eight months (Delaware, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire).
Similarly, renewably-generated electricity outpaced nuclear power in 29 states plus Washington, D.C.: Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.
Of those, all states and Washington, D.C. produced zero electricity using nuclear power this year — except in California, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Texas and Washington State.
Notably, renewable energy sources generated more electricity than either coal or nuclear in three of the nation’s four largest states (California, New York, Texas). The six New England states have become a nearly coal-free zone while four of the region’s states produced no electricity using nuclear power. Renewables also generated more electricity in the five Pacific Ocean states (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington) than coal and nuclear power combined.
Nationwide, renewable energy sources produced more electricity during the first eight months of this year than did either coal or nuclear power. Including distributed (rooftop) solar, renewables accounted for 20.8% of the nation’s electrical generation during the first two-thirds of 2020 compared to 19.4% from nuclear and 18.4% from coal.
A year ago, renewables’ share was 18.7% compared to 19.3% from nuclear and 23.6% from coal. Thus far this year, wind is providing 8.0% of U.S. electrical generation and solar is contributing 3.4%.
“Falling wind and solar costs, renewable portfolio standards, and ever-greater concerns about climate change, are driving a transition away from coal and nuclear power in a majority of the states,” noted the SUN DAY Campaign’s executive director Ken Bossong. “If current patterns continue – or even accelerate – it will not be many years more before coal and nuclear are relegated to niche markets by the mix of renewable energy sources.”
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