Utility-scale solar production increased 30.2% year over year for the first nine months of 2018 according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) “Electric Power Monthly”, as reported by Solar Power World. The report includes data through September 20, 2018. Wind also showed strong growth of 14.5% compared to 2017.
In addition, all renewable energy sources, which includes biomass, geothermal, hydro, solar, and wind, represented approximately 17.8% of US electrical generation, up slightly from 17.6% in 2017. Total electricity produced by all sources increased 4.9%.
Wind and solar combined accounted for 8.8% of US electrical generation and nearly half of the total from all renewable energy sources. Hydropower remained the leading source of renewable electricity, accounting for more than 7.0% of total electrical generation, followed by wind (6.4%), solar (2.4%), biomass (1.5%) and geothermal (0.4%).
The report represents continued good news for renewable energy. With the exception of hydro, all renewable energy sources showed an increase in production year over year. The decline in hydro production was likely due to relatively drier conditions in 2018 compared to 2017, but shows the need to expand areas of renewable energy that are less sensitive to variable inputs.
Another encouraging data point was the 5.4% decline in the use of coal, which represented 27.0% of total energy production in 2018 compared to 30.0% in 2017. This decline was offset by a 15.1% increase in the use of natural gas and a 2.2% increase in the use of nuclear.