Clean Energy Neck And Neck To Nuclear

This just in—non-hydropower renewable energy sources are now neck and neck with nuclear power and growing, while the output of the country’s aging nuclear power plants is dropping off.

According to AltEnergy Magazine, the U.S Energy Information Administration has reported that during the first nine months of 2010 (the most recent period for which data is available) each of these two sources now provide for about 11% of the country’s overall electricity needs. [Editor’s Note: This previously read “non-hydro renewables” when, in fact, it is all forms of renewables. We regret the reporting error.] Renewables–which include biomass/biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, and wind–accounted for 10.9% of domestic energy production and increased by 5.7% compared to the same period in 2009. The country’s nuclear power plants, largely constructed between the 1950’s-70’s, accounted for 11.4% of domestic energy production but provided 0.5% less energy than a year earlier.

Wind Turbines

image via Wikipedia Commons

Renewables broke out as follows: biomass and biofuels accounted for 51.95% of the country’s renewable energy supply, hydropower for 31.50%, wind for 10.52%, geothermal for 4.65%, and solar for 1.38%. Compared to the first three-quarters of 2010 (against the same period in 2009), hydropower declined by 5.2% while geothermal expanded by 1.8%, solar grew by 2.4%, biomass/biofuels increased by 10.0%, and wind grew by 26.7%. All told, non-hydro renewables expanded by a combined 11.5%.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.


  • Reply January 6, 2011


    “Other then Hydro” renewable’s stood at 75,000 GW/hr in 1996.
    They now stand at 150,000 GW/hr, for a total increase of 75,000 GW/hrs in 14 years. The equivalent of 8 nuclear plants.
    US Electricity consumption increased by 600,000 GW in those 14 years. The equivalent of 68 nuclear plants.

    The percentage of US electricity produced by non-hydro renewables has increased from 2.1% in 1996 to 3.7% today. At the current rate of increase we should be on 100% renewables in 800 years.

  • Reply January 6, 2011


    Who does your math? This is from the DOE U.S. Energy Information Administration

    By August 2010 (last reported month)
    Nuclear power – 538,479 GWh (19.2%)
    All renewable* – 286,126 GWh (10.3%)

    Looks like nuclear power has almost a 2:1 advantage over renewable sources of electricity so far.

    *Hydroelectric – 179,464 GWh
    Other renewable – 106,662 GWh

    • Reply January 5, 2011

      Nino Marchetti

      The data for this story was pulled from a news release (linked above) from The SUN DAY Campaign, a non-profit research and educational organization that promotes sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels. They say in the release regarding the data that it was pulled as follows:

      The U.S. Energy Information Administration released its most recent “Monthly Energy Review” on December 22, 2010. It can be found at: The relevant charts from which the data above are extrapolated are Tables 1.1 and 1.2. EIA released its most recent “Electric Power Monthly” on December 17, 2010; see: The relevant charts are Tables ES1.A and ES1.B.

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