It Depends on What the Meaning of the Word ‘Exceed’ Is


Today, in a piece entitled “U.S. Renewable Energy Exceeds Nuclear Power,” Environmental Leader writes, “According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest report, renewable energy accounted for 11.1 percent of U.S. production in April 2009, exceeding nuclear power.”

EL must be confusing capacity (i.e. energy-production potential) with generation (i.e. actual energy output). EIA data reveals that, in April 2009, nuclear power generated 59,129 thousand megawatthours of electricity (or 20.45 percent of the total electricity produced in April 2009), while hydropower and non-hydro renewables (like wind and solar) contributed 25,224 (8.73 percent) and 12,252 (4.24 percent) thousand megawatthours, respectively. Oh, and for the first 4 months of 2009, nuclear generated 263,755 thousand megawatthours (21.04 percent), while hydro and non-hydro renewables generated 87,799 (7 percent) and 46,038 (3.67 percent) thousand megawatthours, respectively.

You can subsidize costly capacity all you want, but, at the end of the day, capacity doesn’t keep the light on. Generation does. And, when it comes to actual electricity generation, much-maligned nuclear power is still miles ahead of renewables.


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