U.S. Renewable Energy Increases, Fossil Fuel Power Decreases – EIA

Non-hydro renewable sources of electricity enjoyed double-digit growth during the past year while coal, natural gas, and petroleum experienced notable declines and nuclear power remained stagnant, according to the latest figures published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

In its "Electric Power Monthly" report released on March 24, 2009, the EIA reports that net electricity generation in the United States dropped by 1.0% during 2008 compared to 2007.

Coal-fired generation was down by 1.1%, natural gas declined 2.2%, and petroleum liquids decreased by 37.1%.

Nuclear generation during 2008 was essentially stagnant–increasing by only 0.3% compared to the prior year.

On the other hand, EIA figures show that renewable energy, including conventional hydropower, increased by 5.9% during 2008–reflecting a combined increase of 0.9% in conventional hydropower coupled with a 17.6% increase in non-hydro renewables (i.e., solar, wind, geothermal, biomass).

In particular, according to EIA, net generation from wind sources was 51.0% higher than it had been in 2007, while solar electric generation jumped by 36.1%. More modest increases were enjoyed by geothermal (2.5%) and wood and other biomass (0.6%).

In 2008, conventional hydroelectric power provided 6.1% of the U.S.’s total net electricity generation, while other renewables (biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind) generated a bit more than 3% of electric power.

However, non-hydro renewables’ share of the nation’s electricity supply has been increasingly steadily. As of December 2008, non-hydro renewables had expanded their contribution to 3.4%. By comparison, non-hydro renewables accounted for 2.5% of electricity generation in 2007.

"Thirty years after the March 28 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, growth in that industry appears to have screeched to a halt," said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. "On the other hand, renewable energy is continuing the pattern of meteoric growth that it has been enjoying in recent years and likely to continue in the foreseeable future."

The EIA report can be found at the link below.


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Comments on “U.S. Renewable Energy Increases, Fossil Fuel Power Decreases – EIA”

  1. John G.

    I’d hardly call an increase from 2.5 to 3.4 percent in one year as meteoric. I think this figure underlines the idea that our conversion to renewable energy will be a slow and steady. At this rate it may take 10 to 15 years to arrive at a figure of 20 percent from renewables. The bad news, of course, is that the price of oil (and gas which is affected by oil prices) is likely to skyrocket in the next decade. I doubt we have a realistic plan to deal to deal with spiking oil prices. We’re probably going to be in another “oil crisis” – rising prices and shortages in less than five years. What’s our plan then?


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