By the end of 2015 renewable energy produced 13.8 percent of the US’s electric needs for the grid, coming primarily from hydro, wind and solar power, in that order. That’s according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) 2015 Renewable Energy Data Book.
"Since it was first released in 2009, the Renewable Energy Data Book has provided useful insights for policymakers, analysts, and investors,” said NREL Energy Analyst Philipp Beiter. "The 2015 version of the data book highlights the ongoing trend of growing renewable energy capacity and generation in the United States and globally.”
The book, produced annually since 2009, documents the amount of renewable energy online and producing electricity throughout the country. The book found that at the end of the year renewable energy grew to 16.7 percent of the total installed electric generation capacity in the US at 194 gigawatts.
Solar power is still just a small part of the overall US energy generating capacity—it represented just 1.9 percent at the end of 2015, but it’s grown quickly. The year before it represented just 1.3 percent of the nation's electric generation capacity. It’s a growth rate of 35.8 percent over the previous year, according to NREL. Wind generation increased 5.1 percent over the last year.
In all, renewable electricity accounted for 64 percent of the US’s new electric capacity in 2015, which is up from 52 percent of the new energy generating capacity in 2014. The biggest decline in generation capacity came from coal-fired power plants, which dropped by 13.5 percent in 2015. “California has a diverse mix of renewables led by solar PV, hydropower, and wind. In Washington, the main contributor to renewable capacity is hydropower, while wind is the largest contributor in Texas,” NREL said.
On a state level, California continued to lead the nation in overall renewable energy generation with 31 gigawatts of renewable energy installed followed by Washington with nearly 25 gigawatts and Texas with 19 gigawatts of installed renewable energy. Other, sometimes surprising states are making major inroads in growing their renewable energy sectors as well. For instance, Oklahoma saw the highest growth rate of 30 percent in the renewable energy sector, which was followed quickly by North Carolina, which saw 27 percent growth rate in new renewable energy.Tweet