Wednesday, July 27, 2011

U.S. Renewables Outpace Nuclear Power

  • The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that renewable energy sources in total have surpassed nuclear power, and are likely to widen the gap unless new nuclear plants are built.U.S production of energy from renewable sources recently passed that from nuclear reactors despite administration efforts to revitalize U.S. nuclear power generation with federal loan guarantees for constructing new nuclear reactors.
    In his 2011 State of the Union speech, President Obama said, "We need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country."
    Obama's attempt to paint nuclear energy green, however, was before the nuclear disaster in Japan, which has prompted nations worldwide to back away from nukes, including Germany which has pledged to concentrate on renewable energy and shut down all its nuclear power plants by 2022.
    The Obama Administration, on the other hand, is currently proposing to add $36 billion to the current $18.5 billion in loan guarantees for new nuclear power plant construction in its FY2011 budget, bringing the total to $54 billion—nearly tripling the money currently available for new nuclear reactors.

    Renewable energy passed that of nuclear power in March 2011 (in quadrillion BTUs). (Source: Energy Information Administration)  
    Meanwhile the world continues to reel from the triple meltdown at the Fukushima-daichi nuclear complex in Japan. Efforts there have been plagued by problems and missteps.
    In the wake of this continuing fiasco, one bright light shines--namely, that renewable energy sources have already passed nuclear power generation in the U.S. and are on-track to outpace oil too.
    The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that renewable energy sources--which include hydroelectric, solar, wind, geothermal, and bio-mass/fuels--were responsible for 0.805 quadrillion BTUs of energy, or about 17 percent of the total U.S. energy generation, in March 2011. Nuclear, on the other hand, provided 0.687 quadrillion BTUs, or about 14.5 percent, according to EIA estimates.
    Comparing the entire first quarter of 2010 to 2011, renewable energy sources rose about 15 percent, according to the EIA, and compared with the first quarter of 2009, renewable energy rose over 25 percent, marking accelerated growth in 2011.

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