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Renewable Energy Provides 14% of US Electrical Generation During First Half of 2013

According to the latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) "Electric Power Monthly," with preliminary data through to June 30, 2013, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) provided 14.20 percent of the nation's net electric power generation during the first half of the year. For the same period in 2012, renewables accounted for 13.57 percent of net electrical generation.

Moreover, non-hydro renewables have more than tripled their output during the past decade. They now account for almost the same share of electrical generation (6.71 percent) as does conventional hydropower (7.49 percent). Ten years ago (i.e., calendar year 2003), non-hydro renewables provided only 2.05 percent of net U.S. electrical generation.

Comparing the first six months of 2013 to the same period in 2012, solar thermal & PV combined have grown 94.4 percent (these additions understate actual solar capacity gains. Unlike other energy sources, significant levels of solar capacity exist in smaller, non-utility-scale applications - e.g., rooftop solar photovoltaics). Wind increased 20.1 percent and geothermal grew by 1.0 percent, while biomass declined by 0.5 percent while hydropower dropped by 2.6 percent. Among the non-hydro renewabes, wind is in the lead, accounting for 4.67 percent of net electrical generation, followed by biomass (1.42 percent), geothermal (0.43 percent), and solar (0.19 percent).

The balance of the nation's electrical generation mix for the first half of 2013 consisted of coal (39.00 percent - up by 10.3 percent), natural gas and other gas (26.46 percent - down by 13.6 percent), nuclear power (19.48 percent - up by 0.2 percent), and petroleum liquids + coke (0.66 percent - up by 15.6 percent). The balance (0.21 percent) was from other sources and pumped hydro storage.

Every year for the past decade, non-hydro renewables have increased both their net electrical output as well as their percentage share of the nation's electricity mix. Moreover, the annual rate of growth for solar and wind continues in the double digits, setting new records each year.

Lead image: Renewable energy via Shutterstock

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