- The U.S. Energy Information Administration says output from United States renewable generation exceeded nuclear in March and April—something not seen since 1984. But the agency noted the shift was highly seasonal, and not likely to continue this year.
- The key was record generation from wind and solar, as well as strong precipitation in the West which resulted in a rise in hydroelectricity. At the same time, nuclear plants typically undergo refueling and maintenance, resulting in lower output.
- EIA noted that its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook predicts nuclear generation will again exceed renewables this summer, and that nuclear will generate more electricity than renewables for all of 2017.
However brief, it is certainly a milestone: Renewable energy output soared to about 65 billion kWh in the spring months, while nuclear output fell below 60 billion kWh.
Conventional hydroelectric generation is the largest source of renewable electricity in most months, and totaled 30 billion kWh in March—the highest level in nearly six years, said EIA. The agency projects an increase of 14% for hydroelectric power in 2017 compared with 2016.
At the same time, renewable capacity has been rising while nuclear remains relatively flat.
"More than 60% of all utility-scale electricity generating capacity that came online in 2016 was from wind and solar technologies," EIA said. "Between March 2016 and March 2017, wind generation increased by 16%, and solar generation increased by 65%. In April, solar generation continued to increase, while wind generation fell slightly."
Overall, the agency projects an increase of 8% and 40% in wind and solar utility-scale generation, respectively, this year. Between15 GW and 21 GW of nuclear capacity came offline in March and April, representing 14% and 21%, respectively, of total nuclear capacity in the United States.