Renewables represent growing share of U.S. energy production


Data from the DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows renewable energy sources continue to grow rapidly while outpacing the growth rates of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

According to EIA data for the first nine months of 2011, renewable energy sources   including biomass, biofuels, geothermal, solar, water and wind   provided nearly 12 percent of domestic U.S. energy production, compared to just less than 11 percent for the same period in 2010 and 10.33 percent in 2009. By comparison, nuclear power provided 10.62 percent of the nation’s energy production in the first three quarters of 2011, about 11 percent less than renewables.

Looking at electricity, transportation, and thermal, renewable energy output, including hydropower, grew by 14.44 percent in 2011 compared to 2010. Among the renewable energy sources, conventional hydropower provided 4.35 percent of domestic energy production during the first nine months of 2011, followed by biomass (3.15 percent), biofuels (2.57 percent), wind (1.45 percent), geothermal (0.29 percent) and solar (0.15 percent).

Meanwhile, renewable sources accounted for 9.35 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, including oil and other energy imports, during the first three quarters of 2011.

The EIA says renewable energy sources, including biomass, geothermal, solar, water and wind, provided 12.73 percent of net U.S. electrical generation, an increase of nearly 25 percent compared to the same nine-month period in 2010. By comparison, electrical generation from coal dropped by 4.2 percent while nuclear output declined by 2.8 percent. Natural gas electrical generation rose by 1.6 percent.

Conventional hydropower accounted for 8.21 percent of net electrical generation during the first nine months of 2011 – an increase of 29.6 percent compared to 2010. Non-hydro renewables accounted for 4.52 percent of net electrical generation (wind – 2.73 percent, biomass – 1.34 percent, geothermal – 0.4 percent, and solar – 0.05 percent). Compared to the first three quarters of 2010, solar-generated electricity expanded in 2011 by 46.5 percent; wind by 27.1 percent; geothermal by 9.4 percent; and biomass by 1.3 percent.

“Notwithstanding the recession of the past three years, renewable energy sources have experienced explosive rates of growth that other industries can only envy,” said Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, which analyzed the EIA data. “The investments in sustainable energy made by the federal government as well as state and private funders have paid off handsomely, underscoring the short-sightedness of emerging proposals to cut back on or discontinue such support.”

Source: 25x’25 Weekly Resource