US renewable energy production now tops nuclear power

Quartz

US president Barack Obama has pursued an energy policy he describes as “all of the above,” a bit of Bill Clinton-style triangulation that seeks to boost production from carbon-intensive oil and gas drilling while promoting clean technologies like solar and wind.

So how’s he doing?

New data released yesterday from the US Energy Information Administration offers a snapshot of the energy landscape in Obama’s first term.

Energy production from natural gas grew 16% while coal-fired power fell more than 4%, thanks to a glut of cheap natural gas from the fracking boom. It’s a trend likely to continue as shale gas reserves are tapped and new emissions regulations effectively bar the construction of new coal-fired power plants.

Renewable energy production jumped nearly 24% but remains only 11% of the US’ total energy production. But the trend lines tell the story: Wind energy, for instance, grew 89% while electricity production from nuclear power plants fell 4%.

And this factoid should warm the hearts of anti-nuke activists: The US now gets more energy from renewable sources—wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and biomass—than it does from nuclear power plants.

While there are new nuclear projects winding their way through the regulatory process, don’t expect a nuke boom. Multibillion-dollar price tags, waste disposal issues and growing water shortages are likely to limit nuclear power’s contribution to the nation’s energy mix in the coming decades.

Mr. Burns just might want to start looking for another job, perhaps as a wind farm magnate.



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