By the end of 2017 renewable energy provided 19.7 percent of the US’s electric production capacity and provided 17.7 percent of its electricity. While the overall majority of that came from hydroelectric generation, the majority of growth came from wind and solar, as it has for more than a decade.
That’s according to the 10th edition of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) 2017 Renewable Energy Data Book, which tracks US and international energy energy use and statistics. When NREL introduced the data book in 2007, renewable energy comprised less than 10 percent of the US’s electric generation. Worldwide, renewable energy produced 32.2 percent of the world’s electric capacity in 2017.
“Since the first Data Book release 10 years ago, we’ve seen US renewable electricity generation grow from 8.5 percent of total generation in 2007 to 17.7 percent in 2017—more than doubling its share of the generation mix—with generation from solar and wind increasing by a factor of 10,” NREL Energy Analyst Sam Koebrich said.
Hydropower produced 41.9 percent of the US’s renewable electric generation in 2017. Wind and solar power, combined produced more—46.8 percent of the renewable energy generation, wind produced 35.5 percent of it while solar produced 11.3 percent of it. Biomass produced another 9.0 percent and geothermal, 2.2 percent of the US’s electric generation.
However, wind and solar continue to grow at the fastest pace in the US. In 2017, solar PV accounted for more than 54 percent of the newly installed renewable energy capacity and 33 percent of the overall installed electricity capacity. Meanwhile, wind made up 43 percent of the newly installed US renewable capacity and 26 percent of all newly installed electric generation in the country in 2017.
“This year, we expanded the Data Book to include information on emerging technologies including energy storage and electric vehicles, providing additional insights analysts, investors, and policymakers can use to assess U.S. and global renewable energy deployment and industry trends,” Koebrich said.
Energy storage still comprises a small portion of the US’s energy generation, but last year alone it accounted for 1 percent of the US’s new electric capacity installations. The only new energy source other than renewable energy and energy storage in 2017 was natural gas, which comprised 39 percent of the US’s new energy generation.
While the data book doesn’t make projections about the future, other Department of Energy (DOE) resources do. For instance, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated that in 2019, 66 percent of the expected 23.7 gigawatts (GWs) of new electric generation will come from renewable energy sources in the US and the rest will come from natural gas.Tweet