Renewable Energy in U.S. Power Generation


"The largest single renewable energy source was biomass."

According to the EIA, renewables provided 11.14% of all domestic U.S. energy production the first half of 2010 (H110). This continues the steady growth trend for renewable energy sources in the U.S. In fact, renewable sources powered 4.91% more BTUs in H110 than in H109 and 8.37% more than H108.

The largest single renewable energy source was biomass (including biofuels), which produced 50.66% of all renewable energy during the period. The second largest source was hydropower (32.56%); and wind, geothermal and solar provided 10.91%, 4.53% and 1.32%, respectively.

An interesting benchmark is nearing, as renewable energy's contribution to domestic energy production is fast approaching that provided by nuclear power: 11.19% in H110—just .05% higher than the renewables.

According to EIA data, electricity generated by biomass, geothermal, solar and wind sources H110 increased by 13.0%, compared with the amount of electricity they generated during the first half of 2009. Wind-generated electricity increased by 21.4%; electricity from solar thermal and photovoltaics rose by 16.4%; wood & other forms of biomass rose by 4.5%; and geothermal output increased by 0.8%.

However, the largest absolute increase in electrical generation from June 2009 to June 2010 was chalked up by coal-fired generating plants, which produced 17,483 thousand more megawatt hours (MWh), or 11.8% year over year, and powered more than three-fifths of the overall national increase in electrical generation. Natural gas-fired plants came in second, producing 9.6% between 2009 and 2010.

Even so, wind was the energy source with the third-highest absolute MWh increase YOY June 2009–June 2010. Conventional hydroelectric power generated 164K MWh during the same period. Hydroelectric generation in California was by far the largest contributor to the overall national increase.

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