NREL Highlights The Increasing Role Of Renewable Energy


A new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) further verifies what many other studies have found: Renewable energy has continued to flourish in the U.S.

According to NREL, its 2015 Renewable Energy Data Book shows that U.S. renewable electricity grew to 16.7% of total installed capacity and 13.8% of total electricity generation last year. Published annually by NREL on behalf of the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the data book illustrates U.S. and global energy statistics, including renewable electricity generation, renewable energy development, clean energy investments, and technology-specific data and trends.

“Since it was first released in 2009, the Renewable Energy Data Book has provided useful insights for policymakers, analysts and investors,” comments 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 U.S. and globally.”

The 2015 Renewable Energy Data Book compiles recently available statistics for the 2015 calendar year. Key insights include the following:

– Renewable electricity accounted for 64% of U.S. electricity capacity additions in 2015, compared to 52% in 2014.

– Renewable electricity generation increased 2.4% in 2015. Solar electricity generation increased by 35.8% (11.7 TWh), and wind electricity generation increased by 5.1% (9.3 TWh), while generation from hydropower dropped by 3.2% (-8.2 TWh).

– The combined share of wind and solar as a percentage of renewable generation continued to grow in the U.S. in 2015. Hydropower produced more than 44% of total renewable electricity generation, wind produced 34%, biomass produced 11%, solar (photovoltaic and concentrating solar power) produced 8%, and geothermal produced 3%.

– Wind electricity installed capacity increased by more than 12% (8.1 GW) in a year, accounting for more than 56% of U.S. renewable electricity capacity installed in 2015.

– U.S. solar electricity installed capacity increased by 36% (5.6 GW), accounting for nearly 40% of newly installed U.S. renewable electricity capacity in 2015.

– In 2015, California continued to have the most installed renewable electricity capacity of any U.S. state (nearly 31 GW), followed by Washington (nearly 25 GW) and Texas (more than 19 GW). 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.

– Oklahoma had the highest growth rate (30%) in installed renewable electricity capacity additions in 2015, followed by North Carolina (27%), Utah (27%), and Kansas (27%). Additions in wind capacity were the main contributor to growth in Oklahoma and Kansas, whereas additions in solar PV capacity accounted for most of the growth in North Carolina and Utah.

– Installed renewable electricity capacity increased to more than 29% of total electricity capacity worldwide in 2015. Renewables accounted for more than 24% of all electricity generation worldwide.

The 2015 Renewable Energy Data Book, produced by NREL’s Strategic Energy Analysis Center, is available here.

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