Renewable energy overtakes nuclear power in U.S. market
As noted by The Washington Post's Wonkblog, renewable energy overtook nuclear power as an energy source in the United States for the first time in decades in 2011. The most recent figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) show that renewable energy provided 11.95 percent of domestic U.S. energy production through the first nine months of 2011, compared with just 10.62 percent from nuclear. But the story explains that "[t]he two things that most people associate with the term 'clean energy' — namely, wind and solar — are nowhere close to overtaking nuclear power," with the "vast bulk of 'renewable' power in the United States still com[ing] from large-scale hydropower (4.35 percent), biomass (3.15 percent) and biofuels (2.57 percent)." The story continues:
Going forward, however, that could well shift. The nuclear industry is more focused on replacing soon-to-retire plants than expanding outright. There aren’t likely to be too many more large-scale hydropower plants in the United States — the prime hydro sites have all been taken. And as for biomass and biofuel, critics have raised serious questions about whether either of these sources are as sustainable as alleged. On the other hand, solar and wind were by far the fastest-growing energy sources last year — solar electricity grew 46.5 percent and wind by 27.1 percent (though it’s unclear whether either source can maintain that hectic pace now that Congress has allowed a few key subsidies to expire.)
The article notes that the other "big story" in the EIA figures is natural gas's fast rise as an energy source and coal's decline.