The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has stated that data scanning the U.S. power grid in 2017 shows not only that around 50% of new utility-scale power originated from renewable energy assets (like solar and wind), but most of it occurred in the last quarter of the year!
The EIA attributed the hike over the last months partly to timing requirements for state, local, or federal tax incentives. For the last 33 years, total monthly nuclear power electricity generation has beat that of renewables except for during March and May last year. However, due to the August solar eclipse across most of the U.S., which dimmed skies midday, solar power plant output dipped. Even California, which has one of the top renewable energy programs, saw a 60% drop in renewables compared to previous corresponding months.
The EIA report was kicked off when in April Rick Perry, Energy Secretary, called for an examination of the dependability and resilience of a grid more reliant on other types of power sources, such as solar and wind. It also implied Perry’s support for old-time resources like energy generation from coal-fired power. The call resulted with a supportive decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Furthermore, in a nod of backing for coal particularly, President Trump ratified a measure last May to appraise former President Obama’s plan for Clean Power, cancel restrictions on the production of coal, lift an interim embargo on renting federal land for the production of coal, and restore authority of the production of energy to states.
Facing demands for exports, the production of coal climbed 6% from 2017, however according to the EIA, it could dip again by 2% this year.
Meanwhile, domestic consumption was down 2% in face of the retirement of numerous coal-fired plants. Coal production in the electric power segment is projected to drop a further 1% in 2018 and by 4% in 2019. Moreover, according to the FERC’s decision, if coal plants feel they cannot contend economically they can decide independently to shut down — a setback to the Trump government!