This website uses cookies to collect usage information in order to offer a better browsing experience. By browsing this site or by clicking on the "ACCEPT COOKIES" button you accept our Cookie Policy.

Where America Gets its Power

SL Advisors

SL Advisors
Visit: SL Advisors


Managing Partner SL Advisors LLC

One of the challenges facing solar energy in providing electricity is that demand often peaks at the beginning and end of the workday. When people are preparing to head to work or school, electricity demand rises. The second peak occurs during early evening during dinner. Solar output peaks around midday, inconveniently between the twin household peaks.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) produces more detailed data on electricity consumption that shows intra-day consumption by region and at different times during the year. It presents a much richer picture of how we use electricity.

American regional power breakdown

The twin peaks around breakfast and dinner apply most clearly during winter. There are clear regional differences too. In the southwest, consumption during the day is barely above nighttime, which is normally the trough in all cases. In the northeast and Pacific coast, evening demand is higher than morning, while in Texas and the southeast the reverse is true. It’s probably driven by relatively fewer hours of daylight in northern latitudes, but perhaps Texans watch more morning TV as well.

In summer, the need for air conditioning dominates, and intra-day electricity consumption is highest around mid-afternoon in every region, which aligns more conveniently with solar output. As a result, demand is highest in the summer, with spring and fall being lowest.

U.S. Electricity generation by source

You can also see how we source our electricity on an hourly basis. The chart takes a recent seven-day period. Solar and wind are intermittent, so they produce when they can. Natural gas and to a lesser extent coal produce when they’re needed, which highlights a huge advantage fossil fuels have over renewables. Often the intra-day peak for natural gas is when renewables generation is low. Coal burning power plants are less able than natural gas plants to change output easily in response to shifts in demand. Over the sample period, natural gas output had a -0.40 correlation with wind, neatly capturing the symbiotic relationship that exists between the two. As a grid increases its reliance on renewables, fluctuations in output must be balanced either with battery storage or natural gas. Nuclear output is steady, making it a poor renewables partner, although an energy policy focused on reduced emissions would favor increased nuclear power.

U.S. Electricity generation by source

Although renewables receive substantial press coverage, solar provided only 1.5% of our electricity in mid-February. Wind has been more successful, at 9.1%. But the big change in mix has been the steady displacement of coal by natural gas, which drove America’s 2.5% drop in CO2 emissions last year. Natural gas burns cleaner and runs when it’s not sunny or windy. It’s part of our energy future.

Originally Posted on March 4, 2020 – Where America Gets its Power

Disclosure: SL Advisors LLC

Please go to following link for important legal disclosures:

Disclosure: Interactive Brokers

Information posted on IBKR Traders’ Insight that is provided by third-parties and not by Interactive Brokers does NOT constitute a recommendation by Interactive Brokers that you should contract for the services of that third party. Third-party participants who contribute to IBKR Traders’ Insight are independent of Interactive Brokers and Interactive Brokers does not make any representations or warranties concerning the services offered, their past or future performance, or the accuracy of the information provided by the third party. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

This material is from SL Advisors LLC and is being posted with permission from SL Advisors LLC. The views expressed in this material are solely those of the author and/or SL Advisors LLC and IBKR is not endorsing or recommending any investment or trading discussed in the material. This material is not and should not be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any security. To the extent that this material discusses general market activity, industry or sector trends or other broad based economic or political conditions, it should not be construed as research or investment advice. To the extent that it includes references to specific securities, commodities, currencies, or other instruments, those references do not constitute a recommendation to buy, sell or hold such security. This material does not and is not intended to take into account the particular financial conditions, investment objectives or requirements of individual customers. Before acting on this material, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and, as necessary, seek professional advice.

Disclosure: Futures Trading

Futures are not suitable for all investors. The amount you may lose may be greater than your initial investment. Before trading futures, please read the CFTC Risk Disclosure. A copy and additional information are available at

trading top