Monday, August 27, 2012

Electricity Generation Scoreboard For Jan-June 2012: Gas Up 34%; Coal Down 19%; Hydro Down 14%; Wind Up 16%

The first 6 months of 2012 have been among the most eventful in the last 40 years of electricity generation statistics.  The pace and breadth of change is startling, with the big winners being natural gas, wind, and solar.

Compared to the same period in 2011, gas generation jumped 34% from January to June 2012.  By crashing the price of gas, shale gas production turned natural gas into a formidable competitor for electricity generation and gas supplied about 30% of America's electricity for the period.  All data is from EIA. See:

Gas gains came at the expense of coal generation that saw a 19.8% decline in the first 6 months of 2012.  During this period coal provided about 35% of all US electricity.

Last year was a huge year for hydro production because the heart of hydro country received substantial snow melt and precipitation.  The water flows are lower this year, and the result is a 14.3% decline in hydro electricity in the first half of 2012. 

How does the production of hydro compare to coal and gas?  Hydro generates about 22% as much electricity as coal and 26% as much power as gas.  Of course, in the Pacific Northwest, hydro is the dominant electric power source.

Renewables other than hydro are having a good 2012, climbing cumulatively 11%.  Wind generation is up 16% so far; solar thermal and PV is up 97% (and that does not include distributed solar production that is not included in the EIA data);  biomass is up 2.3%; and geothermal is essentially flat, up 0.2%.

The result of wind generation's continued growth and the fall of hydro production is that wind generation  produced 50% of the power that hydro did from January to June 2012.

All renewables together generated about 13% of America's electricity for the period, slightly less than it did in 2011, as a result of the large drop in hydro production.

To end this month's electric generation scoreboard, let's look at nuclear.  Nuclear production was essentially stable, up 0.3%, and still providing about 20% of America's electricity. 

What will the second-half of 2012 bring?  More of what it brought in the first-half of 2012! With natural gas prices now hovering around $2.75 for a thousand cubic feet, and with a large number of new wind and solar generation facilities coming on line, natural gas, wind, and solar will prosper in the July to December period.

1 comment:

  1. how are the gas companies doing financially-- what are their profits for the first six months of 2012 compared to last year? the price of gas is way down, what about the profits? What about the glut of gas and all the pipelines being called for? And with the need for coal dropping, what's happening to the coal workers--are they going on the unemployment lines--a new group gets unemployed while another gets employed--!