The EIA released the latest edition of their Electric Power Monthly on January 25th, with data for November 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 2018 to date.
In November, the absolute amount of electricity generated declined slightly as mild fall temperatures gave way to colder winter temperatures with demand for air conditioning giving way to demand for heating. Coal and Natural Gas between them, fueled 61.99% of US electricity generation in November, with the contributions from Nuclear and Conventional Hydroelectric edging up. The contribution from Natural Gas was down at 33.18%, from 38.11% in October, with the amount generated falling from 124,027 GWh to 106,804 GWh. Generation fueled by coal increased from 87,452 GWh to 92,738 GWh resulting in the percentage contribution rising from 26.87% to 28.81%. The amount of electricity generated by Nuclear plants increased from 59,397 GWh to 63,948 GWh with the resulting contribution actually rising from 18.25% to 19.87% in November. The amount generated by Conventional Hydroelectric increased from 18,779 GWh in October to 22,174 GWh in November with resulting contribution increasing to 6.89% as opposed to 5.77% in October. The amount generated by Wind decreased from 19,507 GWh to 17,991 GWh with the resulting contribution falling from 5.99% to 5.59% in November. The estimated total solar output fell from 7,625 GWh to 5,859 GWh with the resulting contribution falling from 2.34% to 1.82%. The contribution of zero carbon or carbon neutral sources rose from 34.10% in October to 36.97% in November.
The graph below shows the absolute production from the various sources as well as the total amount generated (right axis).
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. In November 2018 the output from solar at 5,859 GWh, was 2.86 times what it was four years ago in November 2014.
The chart below shows the total monthly generation at utility scale facilities by year versus the combined contribution from wind and solar. The left hand scale is for the total generation, while the right hand scale is for combined wind and solar output and has been deliberately set to exaggerate the combined output of solar and wind as a means of assessing the potential of the combination to make a meaningful contribution to the year round total.
The chart below shows the percentage contributions of the various sources to monthly capacity additions for 2018. In November, Natural Gas contributed 50.97 percent of new capacity, with 28.53 percent of new capacity coming from Solar and Wind contributing 13.73 percent. Natural Gas, Solar and Wind made up 93.23 percent of new capacity in November. The only capacity added that was not fueled by Natural Gas, Wind or Solar was a 122 MW Conventional Hydroelectric facility at Wanapum, Washington, a 800 kW battery installation at the Rolling Thunder Wind Farm in South Dakota and a 1 MW battery installation at the Casa Mesa Wind Energy Center in New Mexico. The hydro facility in Wanapum Washington is not new capacity in the strict sense since, it is actually part of a project to upgrade ten 104 MW turbines at the facility with 122 MW units, the cumulative effect of which will be 180 MW of additional capacity. In November 2018, the total added capacity reported was 1830.3 MW, compared to the 1577.1 MW added in November 2017.
The chart below shows the monthly capacity retirements so far for 2018. The scale on the Y axis has been adjusted to start at 10% since there is no month in which any coal capacity was retired where the proportion of coal capacity retired was less than that figure and between January and November, the minor contributors were so small that, they are barely visible even with the scale starting at ten percent. In November, the only retirements noted were a 55 MW Wood/Wood Waste Biomass fueled facility at the Benson Power Biomass Plant in Minnesota, a 76 MW Natural Gas Steam Turbine in Tallahassee, Florida, two Natural Gas Steam Turbines amounting to 190 MW at the Murray Gill Energy Center in Wichita, Kansas and a 51 MW Conventional Steam Coal plant at the Kline Township Cogen Facility in Pennsylvania.
Following the posting of the November edition of this report, a request was made for a graph that better represented the scale of the capacity additions and retirements. Below is a chart for monthly net additions/retirements and another for the year to date.
Below is a table of the top ten states in order of coal consumption for electricity production for November 2018 and the year before for comparison
Editor’s Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.