EIA monthly net generation: Utility-scale wind rushes to 11 percent of U.S. mix

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Net electricity generation for November, the latest data available, shows that utility-scale wind and solar were the highest risers, while coal, gas and nuclear fell.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s newly released Electric Power Report details how all of the nearly 302 million MWh were generated in November and compared to the same period in 2019. These are the combined outputs from both electric utilities and independent power producers.

Utility-scale wind and solar power both rose 35 percent compared to outputs from November 2019. Wind generated 33.8 million MWh, while solar totaled almost 5.9 million MWh during the most recent month available, according to the EIA.

That snapshot shows utility-scale wind farms are generating 11 percent of the U.S. net electricity mix. Solar is at nearly two percent, according to the EIA data.

Coal-fired power fell 19 percent year over year, to 61.3 million MWh for November. This represents 20 percent of the U.S. net mix.

Nuclear power, which is still the No. 1 carbon-free generation resource, totaled 61.7 million MWh for a 3.7 percent decrease from the period one year earlier. Nuclear was 20.5 percent of the U.S. net generation mix, according to the EIA data.

Natural gas still rules the American electricity sector, as it has for several years now. Even so, gas-fired generation fell nearly nine percent year over year for November, to 107.8 million MWh, the EIA shows.

Gas-fired power plants accounted for 36 percent of the U.S. net generation mix in November.

Conventional hydroelectric power plants generated 22 million MWh during the same period, a 9 percent increase over November 2019, according to the EIA. This represents hydro (excluding pumped storage) as 7.3 percent of the U.S. net generation mix at that point in time.

The data also clearly shows the rising importance of utility-scale wind power in the mix, driven primarily project developments outside the traditional utility structure. Independent power producers accounted for more than 80 percent of the utility-scale wind generation in November, the EIA reported.

Taken together, the carbon-free generation resources wind, solar, nuclear and hydro are now about 40 percent of the U.S. generation mix.

Wood, geothermal and biomass were the other primary generation resources for that month although only about two percent of the mix altogether, according to the EIA. Hydro pumped storage net generation fell 27 percent year over year.

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