Gas, News, Nuclear, Renewables

EIA: Gas, solar generation rise while coal and hydro dropped in April

April is the cruelest month, according to T.S. Eliot. That was certainly true for a world plunged into the darkness of COVID-19 this year.

This pandemic and resulting economic shutdown that month also pushed U.S. electric demand to predictably lower levels, according to a new electric monthly report by the federal Energy Information Administration. All energy generated in April was down seven percent year over year.

Most power resources were down in April 2020 compared with the previous April. Natural gas and solar were the only two which increased in total net generation year over year.

The EIA monthly report indicated that natural gas production and consumption totaled 55 million MWh by electric utilities, about 10 percent higher than in April 2019. Independent gas-fired power producers produced 45.2 million MWh, slightly above 44.2 million MWh the year prior.

Nuclear power generation by utilities totaled nearly 33 million MWh in April, nearly one million MWh over April 2019, according to the EIA. Independent power producers’ nuclear output was down a little to 26.3 million MWh.

Solar generation was a big gainer starting from a much smaller piece of the overall electricity mix in the U.S. The EIA data indicates that utility-scale solar jumped to 894,000 million MWh in April, nearly 40 percent higher than the same period in 2019, while independently developed solar generation rose about 15 percent year over year.

Wind and hydro power generation were both down, with the conventional hydro generation dropping close to 20 percent. Coal, however, was the biggest loser with overall utility-scale generation falling 32 percent to 40.5 million MWh.

The power industry’s net generation totaled 274.9 million MWh in April, according to the EIA. Natural gas accounted for 39 percent, nuclear 21.5 percent, coal 14.7 percent, wind 10 percent, hydro 7.6 percent and solar about three percent. Biomass, petroleum and geothermal accounted for most of the rest.