Nuclear power has dominated alternative energy sources in the United States for decades – that is, until this spring. Statistics recently released by the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed renewable energy surpassed nuclear energy in power generation in March and April of this year. Wind, solar, and hydroelectric power made that feat possible – the first two set records for generation, while hydroelectric generation surged after heavy rainfall in the country’s West.
Utility-scale renewable sources generated more power than nuclear energy in the spring of 2017 in America, and it’s the first time they’ve done so since July 1984. According to the EIA, part of the reason for this fact is nuclear power plants often undergo maintenance when electricity demand is lower, like in the spring or fall. But renewable energy is also generating more and more power in the country.
In March, hydroelectric power generated 30 billion kilowatt-hours, which is the most amount of power from hydroelectric in almost six years. California’s emergence from their drought had a role to play in that – both record precipitation and the snowpack have made the state wetter than it’s been in years, which is great for hydroelectric generation.
And with more wind and solar installations, the two sources have been offering record amounts of clean energy. The EIA said between March 2016 and March 2017, wind generation increased by 16 percent, while solar generation spiked by 65 percent.
Net generation from nuclear has stayed largely flat since the late 1990s, according to the EIA. Many plants have also been retired.
Even so, the EIA doesn’t expect the trend to continue. They said nuclear will probably overtake renewables during this summer, and looking at 2017 as a whole, nuclear power will likely generate more energy than renewables overall.