Monday, July 30, 2012

Monthly Electricity Scoreboard: Coal Market Share Up To 34%; Gas 31%; Nuclear 18%; & Renewable 14%

After hitting a record low market share of 32% in April, coal reclaimed a small amount of lost market share in May, when coal provided 34% of America's electricity generation, according to the latest EIA data. Yet, coal's May market share was still below its 36% in March.

EIA projects coal to generate 36% of the nation's electricity this year, down considerably from 42% in 2011, which in turn was a large drop from 48% in 2008. Coal and gas are competing intensely and gas is actually challenging coal to be America's leading electricity generation fuel.

In May, natural gas generated 31% of our electricity, a small decline from its 32% share in April. The price of natural gas heavily influences its market share and that of coal. A key tipping point is approximately $2.75 for a thousand cubic feet.

While coal and gas battle it out for the electric generation top spot, nuclear and renewable energy together provide between 30% and 35% of the nation's electricity.  In May, nuclear and renewable energy had market shares of approximately of 18% and 14% respectively. Continued growth, especially in wind and solar generation, makes it likely that renewable energy will become a bigger source of America's electricity than nuclear power within a decade.

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