According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), coal still accounts for the biggest single source of the nation’s power (39 percent), although natural gas has been increasing in importance, providing 27 percent of the US electricity.
Natural gas is rising in popularity in the electricity sector since it emits fewer pollutants (such as sulfur-dioxide) into the air, when compared to coal. In other words, natural gas is cleaner than coal. Also, natural gas plants tend to be smaller, easier to build. Prices, which used to fluctuate wildly, do not represent a concern for analysts anymore – many analysts are predicting that cheaper natural gas will be plentiful for decades.
Cheaper natural gas prices have also been pressuring some nuclear power plants to close down, although the Environmental Protection Agency has recently developed a set of climate rules as incentives to some states keep their nuclear reactors open for longer. The EPA initiative is grounded on the fact that nuclear reactors do not emit any heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Currently, 62 nuclear power plants can be found in operation, containing 100 reactors and providing 19 percent of the nation’s electricity, with 5 morereactors in construction in Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina.
The rest of the energy source is represented by the renewable energy such as hydropower, wind power and solar. Hydropower accounts for the largest energy source, with 1,426 hydroelectric dams providing 7 percent of the nation’s electricity. Analysts, however, pointed out that dams do not provide the same amount of electricity. Such an issue, they say, could be solved by adding generators to existing. Wind power, on the other hand, has been rising fast. There are two big reasons for that rapid growth: 1. the federal government has provided both tax credits and subsidies; 2. many states now have laws requiring utilities to get a certain portion of their electricity from renewables. Another energy source that has been increasing in popularity is solar energy, providing around 0.23 percent of electricity in 2013.
Below, you can find the summary of energy sources and percent share of total electricity generation in 2013:
- Coal 39%
- Natural Gas 27%
- Nuclear 19%
- Hydropower 7%
- Other Renewable 6%
- Biomass 1.48%
- Geothermal 0.41%
- Solar 0.23%
- Wind 4.13%
- Petroleum 1%
- Other Gases < 1%
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Source: vox.com, eia.gov
Camilla G.//SMC Editor