What Powers The Electricity?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

There is a generator-by-generator analysis of the US power supply for 2012, called “eGrid”, available here as an Excel file. I’ve aggregated the data by fuel type.

egrid generator data


Best of a lovely February night to all, Orion refulgent in ebon sky, Castor and Pollux looking on …


143 thoughts on “What Powers The Electricity?

    • daveburton

      I’m surprised that hydro is only 0.4%. I thought it was more like 6%.

      Lots of different ways of getting different numbers about hydro power.
      In the US, hydropower is almost excelusively used to produce electricity, so look out for reports about percent of “Total Energy Generated”, or the percent of “Total Energy Used.” Also, the enviro-greenies HATE hydro power because of several things: It does NOT increase CO2 (so they cannot condemn it and curse it and control it through their CAGW schemes), and it “is” renewable so they must use their artificial legislation definitions to force the increase in wind and solar power, but condemn jhydro. It also requires dams and lakes be created, so their enviro side of the green house is fighting very hard to destroy as many dams as possible out west, to return streams to their mud-filled natural rocky and empty dry beds.
      Anyway, in the US, hydro generates about 6.3% of the total electric power generated (nuclear is staying right at 20-21%), and about 2.5 % of the total energy required here. Worldwide is a bit different.

      • Installed capacity and actual output are quite different statistics. Seems to me there is a lot of installed oil capacity that isn’t used. When I get some time I’ll go to EIA and verify the pie chart. Everybody could do the same.

      • I agree with Nick – I downloaded the excel file and the page (worksheet) US12 gives both these percentage numbers and the total net generation (MWh) by fuel from which the percentage numbers were calculated. Willis says that he ‘aggregated the data by fuel type’ but I’m not clear why he needed to do that, as the aggregate numbers are given on that page. Could you specify the page you used, Willis?

      • The spreadsheet is a complex GIGO emissions model based on multiple surveys, estimates and guesses.
        The surveys attempt to identify all energy producing sources and their capacities. The attempt to identify actual production is not so strenuous.
        “Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database” goes into some detail how many of the ‘estimates’ are generated.
        The summary Nick posted is one example of the summaries available. Note, that the sample Nick posted, (not Nick’s fault!) does not include all headings that Willis used in his summary; e.g. ‘waste heat’.
        Digging into the data a tad:
        NaturEner Power Watch, PCAL12, wind farm; came online during 2012,the year of this ‘report’
        PCAL12 cell CH7 identifies ‘PCA annual wind net generation (MWh)’ as 634107.87MWh
        PCAL12 cell CX7 identifies ‘PCA wind generation percent (resource mix)’ as 100%
        Exactly where NaturEner gathers their data from is unknown. NaturEner’s Rim Rock wind farm generates 189MWh potential. A cute little meter on NaturEner shows Rim Rock currently generating 2MW. Their Glacier Wind farms, 1 & 2, were operating at 0.0MW.
        There are multiple entries for identifying CO2 & GHG components for this wind generation. All have ‘0.0’ entered for the NaturEner line. Apparently, wind farms never generated CO2 or GHG and produce maximum power forever.
        Here is hoping that Willis found/finds things of use in this data base. But I do not hold much hope.
        Back in my early days working for the Federal government, various surveys would show up on the director’s desk and he would assign it to a subordinate. Any such assignments to my Finance director would invariably trickle down to me.
        If lucky, I would find a previous survey on file that would help me identify where any numbers submitted came from.
        One such survey on computer equipment apparently had no previous attempts. I went from desk to desk taking the electrical equipment numbers off of the equipment data plate on the rear or bottoms of the equipment. All such information are not operating data, but usually expected maximums.
        Since I was computer literate, I was well aware of computers running plant and retail equipment and I included their computing equipment in my survey.
        Some months later, I got a call from some regional character who got the assignment to tally our submissions and he wanted to know where I got some of the information. This guy assigned the task of tallying was surprised to hear there was computer equipment other than office equipment. He grumbled some, because he didn’t know what to do with my numbers, declared that he wasn’t going to ask the other offices for corrections. I got the impression he was going to total the numbers and not mention the discrepancy.
        Allegedly some Federal office was trying to estimate electrical power demand for office computers, but didn’t consider other computers already installed.

  1. Solar growth is exponential and can be expected to continue at an exponential rate as production cost continues to decrease and efficiency increases.

    • What about the exponential use of exponential in exponential discourse?
      [The mods will log your linear dislike. .mod]

      • How are the transformers adjusted. Are they veriacs or tapped transformers? It seems to me to be labour intensive in either case as you must monitor the voltages and then make adjustments as necessary.

      • Janus, he (as do a lot of people with blinders on) didn’t feel the need to qualify it as a positive or negative exponential growth as we head into the future reality … so he may actually be correct.
        giving him the benefit of the doubt, what he is trying to say is:
        Production costs (natural gas) decrease … efficiency of supply/distribution (natural gas & other real energy sources) increases … market efficiency increases as the political subsidies are removed … solar facilities and supply then reflect a negative exponential growth.

    • Everything that is growing tends to grow exponentially … until it encounters limits and quits growing. In the case of solar, without effective, efficient, cheap storage, those limits are likely to be pretty low. You’d think that developing massive electrical storage for wind and solar power would be a national priority as would equally massive electrical grid updates to get renewable power from where it is available at any given time to where it is needed. That seems not to be the case.
      BTW, I read a few days ago that US solar power generation is currently about half of current US geothermal power generation. If true, that shows how truly infitesimal current solar power production is in the US.

      • Cheap storage of electricity has been a priority since Edison opened his first power plant in 1882. Electricity demand has always been variable while generators work most efficiently in a small power band. Electrical utilities have been pursuing this for a VERY long time. To date the only practical solution is pumped storage the first of these was opened in the 1890’s. Latest estimates show that pumped storage provides around 99% of bulk electricity storage worldwide. Trouble is there are relatively few suitable locations (not too many mountains on the Great Plains) and those that are available tend to be in areas where protests against the reservoirs required are particularly virulent. The Stormy King Mountain proposed scheme was thrown out when the judge upheld the protests of environmentalists.
        Research on viable alternatives has thus far produced no credible systems for the scale of storage required

      • I agree Kieth. Not only is there a shortage of potential pumped storage sites, West of the Rocky Mountain front where there are likely a lot of sites, there is a shortage of water to pump. And pumped storage isn’t cheap. I think the cost of doing New York’s Gilboa-Blenheim (1GW output 17GW storage) from scratch is probably something on the order of a billion dollars — give or take. Expand that to the thousands of sites that would be needed to support an “all-electric” economy and I think we’re talking we’re talking real money.

      • Pumped storage is a net consumer of electricity. It is principally a method to monetize offpeak energy by creating artificial demand on peak generation.

      • I think that ” Stormy King Mountain ” is actually ” Storm King Mountain ”
        But then there is ” Taum Sauk ” is Missouri, which has a pumped storage electric power gizmo.
        Taum Sauk (I believe) is the highest point in Missouri. It is often missed by tourists who happen to visit the area before they have cut the grass around it.

      • http://www.aresnorthamerica.com/
        I don’t know if their solution to store energy from intermittent (or any source really) is cost effective. It looks very materials intensive. It does require a terrain variation as well so won’t work on a lot of sites. Interesting idea though.

    • The technology has had over a century to mature, the deployable units are only slightly more efficient than the best lab quality PV cells were 75 years ago. The problem is, to be efficient the PV layer must be thin, to be durable and last through the freeze thaw cycles it must to pay for itself the PV layer must be thick. Currently all taxpayers money is going to deployment, not research and development. There is no upside to PV Solar on a modern grid beyond fulfilling campaign promises.

      • Craig. My impression is that solar might currently be cost effective in a few remote and/or exceptionally sunny locations. e.g. Hawaii, Australia, the Sahara. But only there were a way to store the energy for a few hours or, better, a few days. And, of course, if you can match it to a load — air conditioning for example — it might work OK.

      • Well there are actually some quite good PV cell panels available, and the best of them get around 24% air mass 1.5 solar conversion to DC electricity. Lab triple junction triple bandgap solar cells have achieved around 43% . Expensive, but they are used with high concentration (many suns) non-imaging optical collectors, so only need smaller area of expensive materials. Maybe 60% is achievable with upcoming technology (maybe from UC Santa Barbara ).
        TI (Texas Instruments) maybe 40 years ago, had made a silicon photodiode that was both thick and thin at the same time.
        You need thick silicon so that you absorb all the photons you can over a wide wavelength range, but then you need a very short distance from the PN junction to the photon absorbing material, so that you collect all of the photo-electrons before they recombine.
        TI achieved that with a spectacular three dimensional photo diode structure, where the absorbing silicon was over 200 microns thick, yet no point in all of that thickness was more than 5 microns from the nearest PN junction. With today’s silicon technology, you could have every point in all of that silicon within perhaps a tenth of a micron of the junction. Don’t need that short to collect the higher energy solar photons (at air mass 1.5 or 2.0).
        Thin silicon cells still have a problem, in that high energy photons which get absorbed in a few hundred nanometers, have a photon energy much greater than the silicon band gap, so all of that excess photon energy above the band gap, appears as photo-electron kinetic energy, so it ends up as waste heat.
        That’s why you need multiple junction, multiple band gap solar cells so the high photon energies get absorbed in the highest band gap layer, so less converted to heat, and the longer wavelength photons get absorbed in the wider band gap material which is thicker.

      • George. No one said that it couldn’t be done. It just can’t be done cheaply, and the necessary storage simply doesn’t exist

    • Solar growth is currently exponential but can be expected to plateau and then collapse as production cost stops decreasing, efficiency approaches theoretical maximum, the issues of intermittency become more widely understood, and politically motivated subsidies are cut back to win votes as climate change ceases to be something anyone actually believes in.

      • Well solar growth is never going to increase past about 1KW per square meter, due to the puny TSI at the earth’s surface.
        So real estate taxes on property improvement will set a limit to how cheap you can get solar.
        Oh you believe that solar farmers should not pay property improvement taxes like every other property user does ??
        Well good luck on selling that windfall to the American taxpayers to swallow.

      • > I am surprised at the current tiny solar contribution bearing in mind the US has many different climates some of which would be very suitable for solar.
        But the vast majority of the US population lives, by choice, in areas that are rather more cloudy than is ideal for solar. Further, solar often is not a good fit to multifamily residences or multistory office structures. And in hilly/mountainous areas, towns are often located in valleys/canyons with poor Southern exposure. Can’t use solar power when the sun is below our horizon.
        OTOH, land is often dirt cheap in areas where grid scale solar should look attractive. The fact that the US Southwestern deserts are not paved with solar panels, probably tells us something about the actual, practical, economics of solar.

    • What if production costs do not decrease, as they probably will not?
      One does not intelligently invest on a promise.

    • I like exp(-1/x^2) myself.
      It is zero at x = 0, and its derivative (velocity) is zero at x = 0, and its second derivative (acceleration) is zero at x = 0, and its rate of increase of acceleration …… well you get the idea; ALL of its derivatives are zero at x = 0.
      So please sir; how it get to 1/e at x = 1 ??

  2. Beautiful weather here in the San Francisco Bay Area Willis. Best to you and your family and thanks for the great work.

  3. Live data for UK and France is at Gridwatch with daily, weekly, monthly and yearly graphs. Wind is 10.1% at the moment but that’s not too surprising when you look at the Inshore forecast, red nearly all the way round our 11,072 miles of coastline (St Davids Head to Great Orme Head, including St Georges Channel is only ‘Northwest 4 or 5, backing west 3 or 4 later, occasionally 5 later.’).

  4. Best of a lovely February night to all, Orion refulgent in ebon sky, Castor and Pollux looking on …
    Okay Willis I’m off outside ..it is a beautiful nite.
    [The mods were impressed with this obvious oracle of obtuse orbital orrery oratory .. then he misspelled nites. 8<( .mod]

      • Orion is my favourite constellation. It’s nearly dark here so I can go outside and admire him once more. When we first came to Australia I was a bit thrown by the fact that you see him upside down here; sword pointing up, a bit bizarre. I used to bend over to see him the right way up! We have had a wonderful clear sky for the last few nights, together with a fresh wind, beautiful. 🙂

      • @BFL 8:38 am. Did you see the end of the Super bowl on Sunday? with all the glittery thingies in the air ( orange ones? I am sure the would have been baby blue if the Panthers would have won)
        When ever I see one of these pictures I think of that.

  5. What did you actually plot? Net annual generation? Nameplate capacity? Did you filter by status (retired / active /etc)?
    Depending on the answers to those questions this plot might be worse than useless.

  6. Special land use grants, exploitation of eminent domain, and endangered species exemptions to force viability of disruptive, non-renewable conversion of low density, low availability green energy sources. Well, at least the Chinese and “green” tech lobbyists will be happy.

  7. Thanks for the effort Willis
    A couple of possible problems.
    1. The chart doesn’t display in my old Linux version of Opera. Might be a problem with other browsers as well. No clue why not. The jpg file is actually displayable (once I sorted through the gowdawful wordpress html to find the url). The href is http://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/02/09/what-powers-the-electricity/egrid-generator-data/ Should there be something after the final /? The whole thing looks odd to me. It’s not how I’d code an image link. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t legal or perhapspreferable to my simplistic notions of html.
    2. As folks are pointing out, the numbers look wrong, hydro looks way too small. nuclear looks too big, etc. I’ll set out in search of an alternate set of numbers and post it if I find anything.

    • OK — here’s a link to wikipedia’s numbers for 2013 — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States#Generation The table is down a ways in the section
      Wikipedias’s numbers are more like what I’m used to seeing. I’m not about to try to handcode an html table on a website where I can’t view the rendered html without commiting it to an uneditable post. So — unformatted — here’s the gist:
      Coal – 38.44%
      Nat Gas – 27.66%
      Nuclear – 19.18%
      Hydro – 6.53%
      Other Renewables – 6.16%
      Petroleum – 0.66%
      Misc – 0..33%
      Storage(???) – 0.11%
      Total U.S.- 98.85%
      Imp-Exp – 1.14%
      Total – 100%

      • Nicholas:
        Not 100% clear, but it looks to be actual generation. There was additional information that I omitted in the interests of readability including something called “Summer Capacity” that might be “sticker capacity”. The original source is asserted to be EIA/EPA.
        Check the linked page for details.

  8. It’s eGrid which is a product of the EPA, that is used to determine carbon footprint for Obama’s special war on coal. It looks like from the technical summary PDF that its nameplate capacity used.

    • Mark Gilbert – an important distinction. In Alberta, Coal has about 45% of the name plate capacity but produced 55% of the power for the last full year reported. And the government wants to shut it down.
      They have just announced a plan to subsidize solar for municipalities and farms but even in the press release, they admit it is cheaper to buy from the grid. Yet people are buying in. I have looked at solar at my farm and it can’t even pay the interest on the investment (this program may change that but what happens in 10 to 15 years when I have to start replacing parts). Plus at this time of year, I would get only 3 to 4 hours of effective sunlight as the sun barely gets over the trees.

  9. Solar is 0.1% and wind 3.9% and fossil fuels total is 78.3%. Wind and solar will be lucky to be more than 7% by 2040. IOW SFA and the cost could be trillions $ extra and zero change to temp etc at all.

  10. 2012 was a long time ago. Thanks to fraking, natural gas has been very cheap in the US the last several years and that drives the selection of the fuel source except for the few hours per summer weekday afternoon when just about every source is needed to meet demand due to air conditioning.
    In terms of US electricity produced, coal and natural gas were neck and neck in 2015. It isn’t yet known which produced more grid electricity for the full year. Natural Gas was the biggest source for the last few months of 2015 as well as one month in the spring.

  11. Part of the problem with the above graph may be the data source: the EPA.
    Getting your energy usage statistics from the EPA’s eGrid database is a bit like asking Satan to explain what heaven is all about.
    The EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) is the proper source for electricity statistics by sector. It’s contained in Table 7.2a from the EIA’s monthly energy report:
    The following corrected graph was generated from the 2012 data line (converted to percentages) of Table 7.2a:
    Table 7.2a stats are similar to the ones Nick Stokes found in the EPA’s eGrid listing and quoted earlier.

    • However, the EPA’s source is EIA. eGrid is a way of distributing the aggregated data from EIA to individual units. One thing EPA doesn’t realize is that much of EIA’s data from Forms 923 and 860 include boiler data with fuel input data per unit. It also links the boiler to the appropriate generator. So, yes, eGrid is not totally realistic, but with the exception of boilers, it is the only way to distribute fuel input and generation to other sources. I have learned this from my own experience as an Air Quality Engineering Specialist tasked with making comment on, analyzing the effect of, and crafting a State Plan to comply with the Clean Power Plan.

  12. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/01/30/carbon-and-carbonate/comment-page-1/#comment-2134297
    In their misguided attempts to “fight global warming”, it is ironic that our politicians are spending trillions of dollars of scarce global resources to degrade our energy systems AND also attempting to counteract the hugely beneficial impacts of increasing atmospheric CO2.
    The following numbers are from the 2015 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, for the year 2014:
    Global Primary Energy Consumption by Fuel is
    86% Fossil Fuel (Oil, Coal and Natural Gas),
    4% Nuclear,
    7% Hydro,
    and 2% Renewables – largely intermittent, unreliable wind and solar power.
    Cheap, abundant reliable energy is the lifeblood of civilization.
    Fossil fuels keep our families from freezing and starving to death.
    More atmospheric CO2 is good; within limits, a lot more is better.
    It IS that simple.
    It is truly remarkable how so many politicians, scientists and business leaders could get it so wrong.
    When misinformed politicians fool with energy systems, innocent people suffer and die.
    Regards to all, Allan

    • Of course not. They’d like to knock off 100% of world power generation and have humanity live sustainabily using whatever can be grown in a small garden plot. I do not know what they plan to do with the roughly 6.7B people whose energy needs might complicate their simple and elegant scheme.

    • Suicide? No, it is a foreign invasion supported by US elites with the objective of destroying the US’s economy and world dominance. The UN and other anti-American groups are the focal point of this mission.They want to kill free enterprise and democracy. The success of the US is an embarrassment to the nouveau socialist revolution. I’m worried that useful fools in the US may make a quorum.

    • Vermont shut down 50% of their electric supply and Sanders won the New Hampshire primary.
      Clinton is the same anyway as she was outed at the home of the Invenergy, developer of renewable energy projects, CEO in Chicago at a fund raiser.
      New England residents are being told that they can get cheap energy from Canada paid for by Canadians.
      Renewable energy projects proposed to obtain electricity from Mexican projects close to the U.S. border. Baja California, Mexico now has a wind energy project feeding into San Diego Co., CA. which can be expanded. Cheap electricity for California?

      • > Vermont shut down 50% of their electric supply
        In fairness, that was from the shutdown of a single nuclear plant — Vermont Yankee. The (new owners) Entergy managed to create such an impression of near total incompetence, that even pro-nuke Vermonters had a lot of trouble justifying an operating permit for the plant.
        OTOH, the state now seems to be pinning its hopes on solar — which is pretty close to completely delusional. Too far North and and too many clouds for solar to work without mass energy storage. Which pretty much doesn’t exist. Presumably Hydro-Quebec will bail these dingbats out when their schemes fall apart. Likely won’t be cheap though. French Canadians have tended in the past to demonstrate considerable pride in their electrons and to sell them rather dearly.

      • Is Quebec going to throw in cap-and-trade as part of any deals with New England?
        If you shut down half of your electricity supply without replacement, then do without. The people of Quebec have to pay for Hydro Quebec. And Quebec is adding wind farms which are not at all needed but could supply added power to New York and New England.

  13. Using the the EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) numbers provided by azleader, I grouped the sectors to come up with this graph. Solar remains dismally small even though pushed heavily by government incentives. Wind is catching up with Hydro. all is interesting, but reality remains that close to 90% of electricity comes from from fossil fuels and nuclear, with the fossil fuel sector overwhelmingly providing the single largest contribution. But hey, who needs fossil fuels; shut off the lights and computers and get out the candles and playing cards.

    • In environmental terms – were there to be anything at all in GHG CAGW claims – it looks like the only sensible course is to shift more of the load onto nuclear for power generation and nuclear provides a safe future-proofed hedge against diminishing hydrocarbon reserves while extending those reserves into the future. This is also the only viable economic option on the visible horizon unless a significant breakthrough in fusion heaves into view.
      Any proposal to take up that load with solar/wind is so insane you would be forced to conclude that the proposer was either insane or a fifth columnist.

    • Probably not. When looking at annualised figures its normal to use the actual output of stations, not the theoretical max. in terms of subsidies the wind farms will know what they have actually generated, too,.

  14. You do realize that the Greenies will always hate and attack the technology that produces the most power. If we deployed sufficient generators of a given type (wind, solar, biomass, or whatever) to produce half of our electricity needs, a large number of folks will go bonkers.
    Obviously, the root problem is the electrons. We clearly need sensible electron controls and regulation. Fortunately, there is a wonderful opportunity to create a new market in electron offsets. I’m positive it would work.

  15. Always MUST express numbers as actual output, not “nameplate capacity”. Nuclear is consistently over 90% of capacity, solar about 18 to 20%, wind varies from around 20% to 30%.

    • As per my post above, re: Ontario, Canada’s power supply:
      NUCLEAR Effeciency 99.9%
      GAS Effeciency 14.1%
      HYDRO Effeciency 65.9%
      WIND Effeciency 49.2%
      WIND Output Effeciency 47.9%
      SOLAR Effeciency 14.1%
      SOLAR Output Effeciency 14.1%
      BIOFUEL Effeciency 9.0%

      • I have no idea what you mean by efficiency or where you got those numbers from, but they are utterly wrong misleading and meaningless.
        There is no figure associated with nuclear power that is 99.9%.
        Nor are there any figures for wind that correspond to 47.9% or 49,2%.
        Nor 9.0% for biofuel.

      • Ontario residents are already paying for the excess Ontario supply of electricity which is being supplied at low cost or free to Michigan and New York and sending many in Ontario into energy poverty.
        Americans are not to blame for this as they just don’t know what is happening.

      • Leo Smith February 10, 2016 at 9:02 am
        Pardon my math, but I divided output by capability.
        Output: total hourly telemetered generation for all generation facilities with similar fuel type and maximum output capability of 20MW or greater
        Capability: total hourly generation capability for all generation facilities with similar fuel type and maximum output capability of 20MW or greater
        At 1PM, nukes in Ontario produced an output of 10,730 MW. They were capable of producing 10,742. That’s 99.9%.
        You are right, I had the wrong formula for biofuel, but according to the website, again at 1PM, there was a 229 MW capability for biofuel, and 78 MW output. That’s 34.1%.
        I fully admit that I might be mistaken about what “efficiency” is supposed to mean here. My formulae may be wrong. The power company might be telling porkies. I stand to be corrected either way.
        That’s what makes coming to WUWT so fun for me: instant and transparent peer review!

      • Barbara February 10, 2016 at 11:41 am
        “Ontario residents are already paying for the excess Ontario supply of electricity which is being supplied at low cost or free to Michigan and New York and sending many in Ontario into energy poverty.”
        Yep. As one manufacturer in North Bay has said, he is paying more for energy than ever, yet the government allows excess supply to be sent to his competitors. Its a double-whammy, but the politicians would rather pat themselves on the back for going “green”.

      • @ CaligulaJones,
        The table in your link is the 24 hr instantaneous outputs, from which you have calculated that days ‘Capacity Factor’ (Production Factor);
        it has absolutely nothing to do with ‘efficiency’.

      • 1saveenergy
        February 10, 2016 at 3:29 pm
        Thank you. I was a bit hasty in posting that, should have read a bit more.
        Still, it shows how much that “capacity factor” has a bit of a gap for new technology vs. tried and true. That, and that Ontario’s nukes don’t have much to work with.

  16. Using the same EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) numbers I looked at the rate of growth from 2013 to 2015. Solar had explosive growth compared to the other sectors at a 211% increase in contribution. Second and third respectively was natural gas at 18% and Petroleum and wind both increasing by 9%.
    Coal took a hit at -11%.
    While 211% increase is good for solar propaganda, the growth from 2014-2015 is half of what it was from 2013-2014; the growth is slowing significantly. When starting from close to zero the net contribution still ends up being insignificant.
    The federal government has demonized coal and federal and state governments are practically paying people to use solar. Coal was hurt by this government intervention along with cheap gas and petroleum. Solar with massive government spending (which is fading) and promotion, solar barely moved the needle in actual contribution.

    • Never read him as far as I know, although it might be so long ago that I’ve now forgotten it. Generally, I just make it up as I go along.

  17. This simple thread (what could be simpler than asking How much energy is produced by the various sources?) reminds me of the doublespeak, the talking past one another, and the complete lack of interest in trying to understand within the CAGW controversy: No one can agree on definitions. No one can agree on methodology. No one can agree on data sources.

  18. So old nuclear is really a perpetual motion machine? That is what is implied by this amateurish assessment.

  19. The mix shown here is about where the UK was around 5 years ago.
    Since then we have had more renewable rubbish, shut down a nuke or tow and lost a lot of coal, and are in very bad shape.

  20. Quote from the Greenpeace website (if you can stomach it):
    “Climate Leadership Means Keeping ALL Fossil Fuels in the Ground!
    Coal Train
    The science is clear: the path to a sustainable future for people, wildlife and the climate does not include fossil fuels.
    In fact, a recent study published in the journal Nature specifies that we need we cannot afford to burn a majority of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves  — including more than 80 percent of U.S. coal, oil and gas  — if we hope to avoid catastrophic climate change.
    By ending all new leasing of publicly owned oil, coal, and gas, the Obama administration could keep more than 450 billion tons of carbon pollution in the ground.
    This is a time when we need to be prioritizing the transition to a clean energy economy. We need true climate leadership.
    Ask President Obama to keep all federal oil, gas, coal in the ground.”
    Tell you what all of you Greenpeace fanatics; given that wind, solar and biomass only collectivelly provide about 7% of our electrical energy needs according to the EIA (see Alx’s graph above), I will make a deal with you: When all of you Greenpeace fanatics show me solid evidence that you have ALL COMPLETELY divested your lives of ALL dependency on fossil fuel and nuclear energy, I will consider showing you some respect. After all, it will demonstrate that you are actually willing to put your actions where your mouths, your keyboards and your climate change beliefs are. It is easy to state what you believe, but not always so easy to actually act on it.
    While I certainly do not expect this to actually happen, it would be fun to see your response if I actually had the opportunity to take you to task on the above challenge. The only thing I would need is the popcorn. It might make a great documentary too. Where is Michael Moore when you need him?

    • P.S. If I had the money and the documentary film-making talent of Michael Moore, you can bet your bottom dollar that I would make a beeline to Greenpeace and its cult membership whenever and wherever they show up in public to stage a demonstation. I would take them to task to divest their lives of fossil fuels and nucelar energy in the flim. It would be interesting methinks.

    • “When all of you Greenpeace fanatics show me solid evidence that you have ALL COMPLETELY divested your lives of ALL dependency on fossil fuel and nuclear energy, I will consider showing you some respect”
      Here in Ontario, we shut down all out coal-fired generation, and added natural gas plants. Engineers decided where they should go, but wouldn’t you know it, the NIMBYs decided that they couldn’t go there, corrupt politicians agreed, so the plants were moved at a cost of a mere billion dollars or so.
      I wish there was a way to route brown- and blackouts through the places who didn’t want the plants.
      Where I grew up there are plans for a hydro dam, but the NIMBYs say “no”, even though its the kind of clean energy they beg for. They Hypocrisy Meter keeps getting reset with a higher limit.

    • Nice article! Plenty of money and resources were used to attack Canadian produced oil not only in Alberta but around the world.
      Canada bashing has been non-stop.

  21. I´ve downloaded Excel Viewer from Microsoft, and was able to view the excel file w. used. Tab US12 column CT says 6.7030 percent for Hydro. Also W. says 0.9 percent for Biomass and the excel file says 1.44. Wind 3.4476 W. says 3.9 Geotherma1 0.3842 W. says 0.1 etc.

  22. As others have noted, the posted graphic has significantly different numbers than quoted from other sours. It also differs from the summary charts provided by the referenced EIA “eGrid” document. From: http://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-10/documents/egrid2012_summarytables_0.pdf, chart 11 – “eGRID2012 State Resource Mix” the summary information for the US for 2012 was:
    coal: 37.4%
    oil: 0.7%
    gas: 30.3%
    nuclear: 19%
    hydro: 6.7%
    biomass: 1.4%
    wind: 3.4%
    solar: 0.1%
    geothermal: 0.4%
    One really interesting oddity from the eGrid source for me was the breakdown by state. Vermont, home of Ben&Jerry’s ice cream and Presidential candidate socialist Bernie Sanders, gets their electricity from:
    coal: 0.0%
    nuclear: 75.9%
    hydro: 16.9%
    biomass: 5.4%
    wind: 1.6%
    solar: 0.1%
    So under the most common definition of “renewable” power sources, Vermont has only 7.1%, while depending on evil nuclear for over 75%.

  23. There two kinds of two kinds of people. Those who make electricity for a living and those who have an opinion about making it. This is why I changed the subject of what I did for a living at social gatherings. The EPA is comprised of the later. Clueless and useless.
    The first and only important rule of making power is supplying power when and where it is needed.
    Location, location, location.
    I first ran a steam turbine/generator in 1971 on a WWII vintage USN oil fired ship. We failed, lost power, and had to be towed back to port but it was a nice day. Epic failure is failing during a typhoon. The last time I made power was Sunday after making modifications to the fuel system on the 7000 kwe Onan generator in the motor home.
    The debate changes when the power is not available.
    The second rule is you can not store electricity. Supply equals demand. You can store potential energy but that is inherently dangerous. Dams break, coal dust explode, gas pipelines ruptures and hydrogen detonates.
    This brings us to the useless EPA graphic. It takes equipment to convert potential energy into useful power. Location, location, location. If there is no potential energy at the time you need power, the equipment is useless.
    The people who sell equipment generally have never made electricity. The target market are people who have an opinion about it. I have been asked many times since we have been living in our motor home about solar by people who are thinking about it. RVs and sail boats have larger battery capacity. The downside to running an engine to charge batteries is noise. The reality is that there is always an hour a day when things like washing dishes where noise does not matter. Aside from cost of solar, solar takes lots of scarce storage space and do not work very well.

    • “The first and only important rule of making power is supplying power when and where it is needed.
      Location, location, location.”
      Yes, that’s what we did in Ontario, Canada: located new gas plants to replace the retired coal plants where the need was greatest, i.e., near our expanding suburbs of Toronto.
      Can you guess what happened?
      “The Ministry directed the OPA to cancel contracts for two gas plants planned for the southwest Greater Toronto Area, where the need for them was greatest, and relocate them to Napanee and Lambton. Our 2013 special reports on the Oakville and Mississauga power plants set cancellation costs at $950 million.”
      Napannee and Lambton are hundreds of miles away from the Greater Toronto Area…

  24. Old coal were supplied with coal from the US. Since then Canada found lots of natural gas. New gas plants would be located near existing transmission lines.
    Toronto also is near several large nukes.
    So I would just be guessing on the important factors in Canada although solar would not be a good resource.

  25. Yeah, “faulty analysis”; the US is comprised of THREE separate ‘grids’ so a composite of a so-called US electricity supply for any purpose eg ‘generation mix’ is bogus. For instance, Texas has no real hydro …

    • Good question. Willis if we´re wrong please tell us where and how, if you´re wrong admit it and move on, even the sun has its spots /(svalgaard in one, two, three….)

  26. Right now, on a cold day, all of the UK’s bird mashers are producing just 700 MW while our fossil fuel power stations are generating around 70% of total.
    In January, during the cold snap, wind power fell to 76 MW.
    What a joke. In the 19th century we abandoned wind power for the obvious reasons. We don’t seem to have evolved much since then, in fact we seem to be going backwards….

  27. As of the end of 2015 (still an estimate as data for Nov. and Dec. are not yet final), nationwide, 34% of our electricity was produced from coal, 32.5% from natural gas, 19.4% from nuclear, 5.9% from hydro, 7.1% from non-hydro renewables (dominated by wind), 0.7% from oil and 0.5% from other fuels.
    As several posters have noted, you have to make sure you are comparing apples to oranges with any data. When it comes to the data used to describe where our electricity comes from, some pie charts display capacity, which refers to steel in the ground and its potential maximum generation and other charts display generation, which is actual megawatt hours produced from a certain fuel.
    For example, in 2015, natural gas units represented 42% of the installed capacity but only 32.5% of the generation and, conversely, coal units represented 26% of the installed capacity but provided 34% of the generation and nuclear, which represented 9% of the installed capacity but almost 20% of the generation. This difference between capacity and generation reflects how certain electricity generating units (EGUs) are normally operated . Historically, nuclear and coal EGUs were considered baseload – units that run 24/7/365 at conistently high capacity factors. Natural gas EGUs, historically, have run at lower capacity factors due to their ability to ramp up and down quickly to respond to the needs of the grid (e.g., sudden increase in demand, sudden decrease in MWhs from wind, etc.). Nowadays, we have some coal EGUs that no longer run as baseload but ramp up and down while some natural gas units are increasing their output and becoming baseload. This is due to many factors, including the current low cost of natural gas – cheaper fuel costs mean cheaper electricity prices.
    Hope this helps!

    • “7.1% from non-hydro renewables (dominated by wind),” The data is well hidden, obfuscated, homogenized and modified to the point it is nearly impossible to find the TRUE numbers. Thus I would check that number and find where the “Biomass” is included. North-west states are big on burning trees. GB is also big on burning trees – AKA “Biomass” Biomass also includes the generators burning the Methane off-gas produced by landfills. My energy supplier has two facilities running 24/7, however it is difficult to find out how much they generate and I work for the utility!
      Further, essentially every form of generating electricity needs electricity to make electricity. It needs electricity to control the equipment, cool the equipment, keep the equipment warm in the winter, etc., etc., Typical values are between 10 and 15 percent of the NAME PLATE generating capacity 24/7/365. However when a generating facility claims they are generating X.X Megawatts they are providing the output of the generator at the terminals of the generator. That is delivered to the “Grid” through a meter and that is the number they use. THEN, they “buy back” electricity through another connection and measure it with a different meter.
      Thus, for a Nuclear power plant generating 1,000 Megawatts actually only 850 megawatts are effectively provided to the grid. With Wind Turbines you still have the same problem but they still use that power when not producing power. That means that a 1 Megawatt Wind Turbine burns up 100 to 150 Kilowatts each and every hour it exists – 24/7/365 regardless of whether it is generating electricity or not. So a wind turbine that has a 30% capacity factor (delivers 30 percent of its Name Plate rating) over the year actually only delivers 15 to 20% of the predicted power to the grid averaged over the entire year.

  28. France electricity production.. rounded up. (Source: my EDF electricity bill)
    82% nuclear
    14% soi-disant renewable, of which about 9% hydro, rest geothermal, wind, solar, wave
    4 % fossil fuels of which 1% oil, the remainder about even gas and coal.
    This means France has the lowest CO2 emissions for electricity production among developed Countries and is a net exporter of electricity as its nuclear stations produce more than demand.
    So the question is…
    Why is the Government of an economy that is on the verge of collapse subsidising the contruction of 620 miles of roadway surfaced with solar panels?
    Why is it subsidising wind, solar and wood burning?
    It cannot be for any scientific or practical/economic reason, so it must be entirely political.
    Why anyone still imagines the Climate Dragon is real and not just political posturing defies reason.

    • Gouvernemental craziness in France is record high, out of scale, never-seen-before, exponential, and unsustainable; the new government includes:
      – Emmanuelle Cosse (green) as the new Sinistry of (lack of) home – after the huge success of another green sinistry of lack of home (destroying the home construction sector: mission f*cking accomplished!)
      – Jean-Vincent Placé (green), a guy mostly known for not paying his tickets (18161 € for parking and over speeding tickets); of course, greens are anti-cars so I guess they prefer badly parked cars than cars on roads, and moving cars should be parked ASAP so they need to move as fast as possible! (I guess)
      – Barbara Pompili (green) : I had to look her up, she hasn’t done much

  29. As most people are, I too am subjected daily to the mass media reports that stress the need to build renewable, clean energy sources. In those articles and talks the sources are usually identified by the words “wind, solar and others.” Then follows a hint at their ever increasing energy output that reaches over 40 % of some vague, total energy. Suspicious of wishful thinking, I looked up the list of renewables and their annual output as compiled by the Department of Energy of the US Government (doe.eia.org).
    I started with listing all the “other” sources and plotted their historical yields. The upper chart in the attachment shows the result; the names of the sources are placed along the lines.
    It is immediately apparent that, contrary to the claim, there is no worthwhile growth. Worse yet, the combined output is lower today than it was in the decades past, and three of the four sources provide a minuscule amount of energy in comparison to the fourth – hydro.
    Two of the three weak ones, wood and waste, while renewable, are not classified as clean sources for they do emit CO2 along with other “bad” gasses and residues. Thus we legitimately gain only the 1.8 GW from this group, the geothermal yield.
    The fourth source – hydro – provides 30 GW which is 94 % of the yield from this group of clean, renewable sources. Neither of the four sources grows appreciably and their sum has been declining as said. (Hydro used be 34 GW decades ago.) To increase hydro, it would have to either rain more or we would have to cut on irrigation. The rain is beyond our control and the irrigation – are we willing to cut down on fresh veggies?
    It should be pointed out that these “Other” sources have been around long before the term “clean energy” and “climate change” were in common parlance. Because they all existed prior to the present “green” movement and financing, they should not be advertised as a result of the recent environmental and climate change policies. Including hydro and the other three sources in the renewable energy portfolio, as the media have been doing, is misleading and immoral. Including them as if they were the result of the renewable, clean, non-polluting, climate-change, energy effort reminds one of the allegory (analogy?) of having a cake and eat it too. Cannot have it.
    That brings us to the realization that the claimed growth and the very existence of the modern renewable effort originates from just two of the six sources: wind and solar (W&S). Their output is shown in the lower chart; it amounted to about 25 GW in 2015. Wind growth is shown slowing down while solar, the smaller of the two, is booming. The wind growth is slowing most likely because the best sites for windmills have already been exploited, the subsidies are declining, and also because the enthusiasm for windmills departed with Dr. Chu’s leaving his DOE Secretary position; the new Secretary, Dr. Muniz, believes in solar.
    Understanding now that only W&S will be providing the upcoming demand for electric power, let’s survey the status. The US electricity usage climbed to 500 GW, and the overall energy to 3400 GW. That is the scale on which to compare the W&S output: a neat 5 % of electricity and 0.7 % of energy overall. These numbers are in stark contrast to the commonly claimed percentages. And remember that that yield was reached after 40 years of subsidized financing measured in billions of dollars annually. (The wind subsidies were to expire in 2005!)
    Besides the horrendous cost, one has to wonder how much positive impact the W&S yield has on the dreaded climate change, pollution, and overall energy supply. Besides, there is no chance that we will meet the frequent predictions for the 20, 50 or 100 percent of energy derived “from renewable, clean sources” in the usual 5, 10 or 20 years commitments repeatedly proclaimed by the facts-ignorant politicians and prejudiced media. And how much energy do we get for the many billion dollars spent on developing W&S? Somebody more qualified than I am will perhaps come up with a number of dollars per watt.

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