EIA's Electric Power Monthly - August 2018 Edition With Data For July

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Includes: FCG, GASL, GASX, TAN
by: Ron Patterson

By Islandboy

The EIA released the latest edition of their Electric Power Monthly on September 25th, with data for July 2018. The table above shows the percentage contribution of the main fuel sources to two decimal places for the last two months and the year to date.

For the month of July, the total amount of electricity generated was the second-highest amount generated for any single month since January 2013 at 410,148 GWh, 2,302 GWh less than the amount generated in July 2016. Coal and Natural Gas fueled almost 68.5% of US electricity generation in July and while the contribution from Coal increased from 27.36% in June to 28.18% in July, the contribution from Natural Gas also increased by slightly more than five percentage points, reaching an unprecedented 40.28% up from 35.02% in June. Nuclear power generated 72,456 GWh, 3.97% more than it did in June but, due to the increase in total generation, the percentage contribution to the total actually declined to 17.67% from 18.77% in June.

In July, the contribution from All Renewables at 13.01% fell further below that from Nuclear at 17.67%, similar to July 2017 when the ramp-up of total generation resulted in the percentage contribution from All Renewables falling further below that from Nuclear. The absolute contribution from Solar declined from its all-time high in June of 10,880 GWh to 10,049 GWh, with the corresponding percentage contribution declining to 2.45% as opposed to 2.93% in June. The amount of electricity generated by Wind decreased by almost 35%, from 24,411 GWh to 15,897 GWh and coupled with the increased total generation, the percentage contribution declined from 6.58% to 3.88% in July. The contribution from Hydro decreased 13.53% from 27415 GWh in June to 23706 GWh, resulting in the percentage contribution decreasing from 7.39% in June to 5.78%. The combined contribution from Wind and Solar decreased to 6.33% from 9.51% in June. Consequently, the contribution from Non-Hydro Renewables also decreased to 7.23% from 10.48%. The contribution of zero emission and carbon neutral sources, that is, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, landfill gas and other biomass decreased to 30.68% from 36.64% in June.

The graph below helps to illustrate how the changes in absolute production affect the percentage contribution from the various sources.

The chart below shows the total monthly generation at utility scale facilities by year versus the contribution from solar. The left-hand scale is for the total generation, while the right-hand scale is for solar output and has been deliberately set to exaggerate the solar output as a means of assessing its potential to make a meaningful contribution to the midsummer peak. The scale on the y axis has been adjusted to display TWh instead of GWh as suggested by Dennis (Coyne) earlier this year to make the comparison a little easier. In July 2018, the output from solar at 10,049 GWh was 3.64 times what it was four years ago in July 2014. Solar energy appears to have peaked in June, the month of the summer solstice, so it is looking like the peak monthly output for 2018 is likely to be 10,880 GWh, barring the remote chance that more is generated in August.

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The chart below shows the monthly capacity additions for 2018. In July, Natural Gas contributed 82.78 percent of new capacity. With 7.45 percent of new capacity coming from Wind and Solar contributing 6.85 percent, Natural Gas, Solar and Wind made up almost 99.94 percent of new capacity in July. The only capacity added that is not fueled by Natural Gas, Wind or Solar was a 1MW cogen plant, fueled by Distillate Fuel Oil at the Loma Linda University. In July 2018 the total added capacity reported was 1,576 MW, compared to the 1,667 MW added in May 2017.

The chart below shows the monthly capacity retirements so far for 2018. In July the only retirements were three units powered by internal combustion engines, fueled by Landfill Gas, two 1 MW units in Maryland and a 1.7 MW unit in Texas, for a total of 3.7 MW.

Following the report on the edition of the EPM with data for March, there was some discussion about coal consumption for the production of electricity. At the request of peakoilbarrel.com member Shyam, I am including a table of the top ten states in order of coal consumption for electricity production for July.

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