Renewable energy continued to make inroads against conventional generation sources during the first half of 2014. In fact, renewable resources, such as wind and solar, provided 14.3% of net U.S. electric generation, according to data provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
In its latest electric power report, the EIA notes that electrical generation from non-hydro renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and biomass, expanded by 10.4% compared to the first half of 2013. Conventional hydropower accounted for 7.0%, while non-hydro renewables contributed 7.3%.
Wind power alone increased by 9.0% compared to last year and accounted for 5.0% of the nation's electrical generation during the first six months of 2014, while solar-generated electricity more than doubled (growing by 115.7%).
However, geothermal power dipped by 1.5% and conventional hydropower declined by 4.2%.
Even with the lower output from hydropower and geothermal, net U.S. electrical generation from all renewable sources combined grew by 2.73%. By comparison, net electrical generation from all energy sources – renewables, fossil fuels and nuclear power – grew by 2.59%.
‘Not long ago, [the] EIA was forecasting that renewables would not reach 14% of U.S. electrical generation until the year 2040,’ says Ken Bossong, executive director at nonprofit SUN DAY Campaign. ‘And even the current 14.3% figure undoubtedly understates the real contribution from renewables," he explains, noting the EIA's data does not fully reflect distributed and off-grid generation.