Baseload, Bioenergy, Geothermal, Hydropower, Solar, Storage, Wind Power

Non-Hydro Renewable Electricity Outshines All Other Sources and Grows 11 Percent in 2014

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)’s latest “Electric Power Monthly” report, with data through the end of 2014, net electrical generation from non-hydro renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) increased by 10.9 percent over the previous year.

The contribution to net electrical generation by just solar more than doubled (102.8 percent) while wind grew by 8.3 percent, biomass by 5.7 percent, and geothermal by 5.4 percent. 

By comparison, nuclear power and coal increased by only 1.0 percent and 0.3 percent respectively while electrical generation using natural gas dropped by 0.3 percent. Conventional hydropower also declined by 3.7 percent. Net electrical generation from all energy sources combined increased by 0.7 percent in 2014 compared to 2013.

Over the past decade, electrical generation from non-hydro renewables has more than tripled. And, significantly, 2014 was the first year in which non-hydro renewables provided more electrical generation than did hydropower (281,060 thousand MWh vs. 258,749 thousand MWh).

Including hydropower, EIA reports that renewable energy sources accounted for 13.19 percent of net U.S. electrical generation in 2014 (hydropower – 6.32 percent, wind – 4.44 percent, biomass – 1.57 percent, solar – 0.45 percent, and geothermal – 0.41 percent). These numbers, however, almost certainly understate renewable energy’s actual contribution to the nation’s electrical supply because EIA does not fully account for electricity generated by distributed and off-grid renewable energy systems (e.g., rooftop solar).

Given current growth rates — especially for solar and wind, it is quite possible that renewable energy sources will reach, or exceed, 14 percent of the nation’s electrical supply by the end of 2015. That is a level that EIA, only a few years ago, was forecasting would not be achieved until the year 2040.

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