Numbers from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reflect the extent of renewable energy development in the US over the past several years.
Construction costs per kilowatt for solar, wind, biomass, and hydroelectric projects have fallen, in some cases steeply, since 2013, and natural gas generators are also getting cheaper to build despite getting more expensive year-over-year from 2013 to 2014. Only petroleum liquid generators have shown an increase in cost per kilowatt between 2013 and 2015.
The falling cost of building these renewable plants likely contributed to a peculiarity of the US energy makeup during the months of March and April, as well.
According to the EIA, electricity generation from utility-scale renewable plants surpassed nuclear generation for the first time since 1984 in those two months.
The EIA explains that this is a seasonal result as well as a trend outcome—not only is solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and biomass electricity produced more than ever before, but nuclear energy also tends to be curtailed in spring and fall.
During those seasons, plants are scheduled for maintenance more often because energy demand is lower.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported that “an average of 14 gigawatts and 21 gigawatts of nuclear capacity were offline during March and April, respectively, representing about 14 percent and 21 percent of total nuclear capacity in the United States,” the EIA wrote.
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