Electricity production share from wind has been growing in the U.S. and electricity production share from coal has been declining over the last few years.
Thats good news!
In 1997 coal was 52.8% of U.S. production.
2004 coal was 49.8% ( went under 50% for the first time )
2006 coal was 49%
2008 coal was still 48.5%
The 12 months period July 2008 to June 2009 coal was 46.6% ( call this period 2008-09 )
From 1997 to 2008-09 electricity from non-hydro renewables is up from 2.1% to 3.2%, mostly from growth in wind power ( this growth has actually all happened in the last 4 years ) The growth of wind can’t explain all of the decline in coal.
Turns out that natural gas is way up from 13.7% in 1999 to 22.1% in 2008-09.
Why is coal down so much in the last 12 months?
Overall electricity use is down significantly in the last 9 months.
But that decline is all in one sector – residential electricity use is down 1% and commercial electricity use is down 2% and industrial electricity use is down 13%.
Natural gas is burst electricity, it’s what companies spin up for the peak of the day when we all turn on our lights and AC and TVs – anything that varies during the day – residential and commercial.
Industrial use has more round the clock use, so that means coal and nuclear. Between coal and nuclear, you turn off coal first.
Okay but why is electricity from coal ( as a percentage of total production ) down over the long term?
Going back to look at the last 10 years, its pretty obvious that the residential use has been growing while industrial use is pretty flat.
That explains why natural gas has been gaining share on coal over that time.
Wind power is growing, but its still a minor player.