Utility-scale wind becoming top renewable energy resource this year, EIA says

The annual power generation production from wind energy will surpass hydropower and become the top U.S. utility-scale clean energy resource for the first time ever this year, the federal Energy Information Administration forecast in an outlook released Tuesday.

The EIA’s Short Term Energy Outlook reported that U.S. electricity generation from wind totaled close to one million MWh in April, a new record.

Hydropower currently accounts for a 7 percent share of total generation and should maintain that over the next two years, according to the EIA. Wind, however, is closing in on that share and growing, while the forecast predicts that all renewable fuels—including wind, hydro and solar—will produce 18 percent of the U.S. generation mix this year and almost 20 percent in 2020.

Earlier this year, the EIA reported that wind would comprise 46 percent of the expected 23.7 GW in new electricity capacity added in the U.S. this year. Part of the increase could be attributable to tax benefits, since companies which want to take the full 2016 value of the federal Production Tax Credit must start construction by 2020, according to reports.

The EIA also notes that gas-fired generation is solidifying its hold atop the U.S. electricity generation mix. Utility-scale electricity generation from gas-fired power plants totaled 35 percent last year and should reach 38 percent by 2020.

Coal is likely to fall from its 27 percent share in 2018 to 24 percent this year and 23 percent a year later. Consumers Energy, Talen Montana, Xcel Energy and Pacificorp are a few of the utilities which announced plans to retire coal-fired generation recently.

Meanwhile, Entergy, Southern Co., WEC Energy Group and Invenergy are among those completing and putting new gas-fired units into operation in past months.

Nuclear energy is expected to hold a 20-percent share of the U.S. mix this year and drop to 19 percent in 2020. Several nuclear power plants have closed or are closing in the next two .

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