US electricity generation from natural gas hit an all-time high this past winter, breaking previous records. According to the Short-Term Energy Outlook, 619 billion kilowatt-hours (BkWh) of electricity were generated from natural gas between November 1 and March 31. That’s an average of over 120 BkWh monthly, accounting for 38% of the country’s electricity generation mix.
The overall electricity generation during the winter (2021/2023) was the highest since at least 1997. But it wasn’t just natural gas that saw an increase. Wind and solar power also contributed to meeting the growing demand for electricity compared to the previous year.
Usually, US electricity generation peaks in the summer when people start using air conditioners to beat the heat. However, there is also a smaller peak during the winter, when temperatures drop, and users turn up their heaters to stay warm. In these colder periods, certain regions experience increased electricity demand as homes and businesses rely on electric heating devices like heat pumps, electric radiators, space heaters, and other equipment to keep warm. Winter is also the highest period of overall natural gas demand, since many homes and businesses use natural gas heaters rather than electric heaters.
Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, have been making significant contributions to meeting the overall electricity demand. In 2022, the US added 8 gigawatts (GW) of new wind capacity and 10 GW of new solar capacity. These additions further boosted the share of renewables in the electricity generation mix, providing cleaner and more sustainable alternatives.
The record-breaking electricity generation from natural gas showcases the changing landscape of the US energy sector. As the nation strives to meet its energy needs while addressing environmental concerns, maintaining a diverse and adaptable electricity generation mix is crucial to ensure a reliable and sustainable power supply for the future.
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