Quantcast

Renewables Now Contribute Nearly One-Fifth of U.S. Electricity Generation

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy now makes up 18 percent of total electrical generation in the U.S., roughly double the amount a decade ago, a new report shows.

According to the sixth annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, which outlines key U.S. energy trends, renewable energy output in the power sector soared to a record high last year and could eventually rival nuclear.


The factbook, produced for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), shows that renewable generation boomed 14 percent in 2017 to hit 717 terawatt hours (TWh). This increase was driven mostly by the West Coast's rebound in hydropower generation after years of drought as well as new wind and solar projects built in 2016 coming online in 2017.

Rachel Luo, senior analyst for U.S. utilities and market reform at BNEF and lead author of the report, told Greentech Media that 18 percent might not sound like a lot but it brings renewable energy "within striking distance" of nuclear, which contributes about 20 of total annual U.S. electricity generation.

"In 2017 it's a very significant story that renewables are making a lot of headway in pushing forward the decarbonization of the power sector, even as the natural gas share decreases," she said.

Indeed, as this chart below shows, natural gas slipped 2 percent last year, from 34 percent in 2016 to 32 percent in 2017. Coal, which used to dominate the U.S. energy landscape, has also shrunk to 30 percent.

2018 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook

Even though natural gas is still the number one producer of U.S. power, "[its] downtick could be from a variety of factors [such as] the increasing penetration of renewables, but load growth is also stalling and … natural gas prices have recovered a little," Luo told Greentech Media.

In summary, the factbook said: "The massive and historic transformation of the U.S. energy sector clicked into a higher gear in 2017, despite new policy uncertainties. Renewable deployment grew at a near-record pace, energy productivity and GDP growth both accelerated, and the U.S. became a serious player in the global liquefied natural gas market. All of this combined to squeeze U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to a 25-year low, while keeping costs in check for consumers."

Watch here to learn more:

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An Australian flag flutters in the wind in a dry drought-ridden landscape. Virginia Star / Moment / Getty Images

Australia re-elected its conservative governing Liberal-National coalition Saturday, despite the fact that it has refused to cut down significantly on greenhouse gas emissions or coal during its time in power, The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Tree lined street, UK. Richard Newstead / Moment / Getty Images

The UK government will fund the planting of more than 130,000 trees in English towns and cities in the next two years as part of its efforts to fight climate change, The Guardian reported Sunday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A tropical storm above Bangkok on Aug. 04, 2016. Hristo Rusev/ NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

First off: Bangkok Wakes to Rain, the intricately wrought, elegantly crafted debut novel by the Thai-American author Pitchaya Sudbanthad, isn't really about climate change. This tale set in the sprawling subtropical Thai capital is ultimately a kind of family saga — although its interconnected characters aren't necessarily linked by a bloodline. What binds them is their relationship to a small parcel of urban land on which has variously stood a Christian mission, an upper-class family house, and a towering condominium. All of the characters have either called this place home or had some other significant connection to it.

Read More Show Less
orn_france / iStock / Getty Images

By Susan McCabe, BSc, RD

Dioscorea alata is a species of yam commonly referred to as purple yam, ube, violet yam, or water yam.

Read More Show Less
Left: MirageC / Moment / Getty Images Right: Pongsak Tawansaeng / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Sole water is water saturated with pink Himalayan salt.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
People march to TCF Bank Stadium to protest against the mascot for the Washington Redskins before the game against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 2, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Hannah Foslien / Getty Images

Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill into law Thursday banning public schools or universities in the state from using Native American mascots, names or imagery. Mills' action will make Maine the first state in the nation with such a ban once it goes into effect later this year, The Bangor Daily News reported.

Read More Show Less
A man protests against the use of disposable plastics outside the Houses of Parliament on March 28 in London. John Keeble / Getty Images

Plastic pollution across the globe is suffocating our planet and driving Earth toward catastrophic climatic conditions if not curbed significantly and immediately, according to a new report by the Center for International Environmental Law (CEIL).

Read More Show Less
Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill on April 2 in Washington, DC. Zach Gibson / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

A new climate action plan put forth by Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday is being praised for highlighting the enormous benefits that would result from a rapid shift in the U.S. to a renewable energy economy that centers on the needs of workers and vulnerable communities.

Read More Show Less