Report: U.S. Renewables Upped Their Game In First Three Quarters


Renewable energy sources provided 15.1% of net U.S. electrical generation during the first three quarters of this year, according to nonprofit SUN DAY Campaign, which cites data from the latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Electric Power Monthly report (with data through Sept. 30). This includes electricity from conventional hydropower, utility-scale biomass, geothermal and wind facilities, as well as utility-scale and distributed solar.

By comparison, renewables provided 13.2% of net electricity during the same period in 2015, notes the SUN DAY Campaign. In terms of actual generation year-to-date, electricity from renewable sources is 14.3% greater in 2016 than during the first nine months of 2015.

Comparing the first three quarters of 2016 to the same period in 2015, the SUN DAY Campaign finds the following:

  • Solar (utility-scale and distributed) increased 41.3%. Solar’s share of net electrical generation has grown to 1.4%; a year ago, it was 0.98%.
  • Wind power increased by 21.7%. Wind now accounts for 5.2% of U.S. electrical generation; a year ago it was 4.3%.
  • Hydropower has largely rebounded from the 2015 drought and increased its output by 9.1%.
  • While lagging its 2015 generation for most of this year, geothermal experienced an expansion of 20.6% in September (compared to September 2015), resulting in a year-to-date growth of 7.7%.
  • Only biomass showed a small decline – 1.2%.
  • Overall, non-hydro renewables grew by 18.8% and accounted for 8.5% of total net U.S. electrical generation year-to-date in 2016; conventional hydropower provided 6.6%.

By contrast, the SUN DAY Campaign says, other energy sources experienced either just minor growth or significant declines. Electrical generation using natural gas increased by 7.5% and nuclear by 0.2%. Meanwhile, coal-generated electricity dropped by 13.4% while that relying on petroleum liquids plunged 34.2%. Thus, solar, wind, hydropower, and geothermal each experienced growth rates greater than those for natural gas, oil, coal, or nuclear power.

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