Our soon ended 2012 is leaving its mark in the energy record books and has been anything but ordinary. Here are 6 notable energy records that were set this year.
US coal exports set a new record at 124 million tons, even as domestic coal production and coal generation fell substantially. www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/pdf/steo_full.pdf. Where did US coal go? Mostly to Europe and Asia, where coal had a very good year.
The renewable energy industry produced 3 new notable records. Biodiesel production reached record levels and the solar industry will install a record 3,200 megawatts of new capacity or the equivalent of one nuclear plant.
The wind industry will set a new record for new capacity installed in a single year at approximately 12,000 megawatts, enough capacity to produce as much electricity as 6 nuclear plants the size of the still operating Three Mile Island nuclear unit. All that new wind supply, combined especially with another approximately 46,000 megawatts of wind built prior to 2012, significantly pushes downward wholesale power prices and has caused competitors of wind to attack the production tax credit for wind.
Indeed, the wind and solar industry together will build an incredible 15,000 megawatts or more of capacity in 2012. Renewable energy is likely to provide about two-thirds of all new generating capacity built this year in the USA. Simply amazing!
Despite about a 50% decline in rigs drilling for natural gas, the US natural gas industry will likely set a new record for production in 2012, breaking the record just set in 2011. That feat reflects increased productivity of drilling rigs, substantial associated gas production from oil wells, and wells previously drilled being connected to pipelines.
US gasoline prices will set a new record in 2012, averaging $3.63 per gallon for the year. That's the sixth and most painful energy record of the year.