For the first time ever, during the first quarter of this year, electricity generated in the U.S. by non-hydro renewables (wind, solar, biomass and geothermal) exceeded that provided by conventional hydropower. That is according to the SUN DAY Campaign's new analysis of data in the latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Electric Power Monthly. In addition, solar and wind generation both increased during the quarter.
The Sun Day Campaign, a renewable energy advocacy group, says non-hydro renewables provided 53.16% of the net U.S. electrical generation from renewable energy sources for the period Jan. 1 – March 31, 2014, while hydropower provided the balance of 46.84%.
This reflects an increase of 11.3% in electrical generation by non-hydro renewables compared to the first quarter of 2013, as well as a decline of 4.5% in hydropower's output – possibly contributed to by the worsening drought in California, SUN DAY says. Notably, electrical generation from solar photovoltaic and solar thermal grew by 103.8%, while wind expanded by 12.6%; biomass also increased by 2.2%, but geothermal dipped by 3.3%.
Electrical generation from all renewable energy sources combined, including hydropower, was 3.29% higher during the first quarter of this year compared to the first three months of 2013 and accounted for 13.09% of net U.S. electrical generation. Hydropower accounted for 6.13% of net U.S. electrical generation for the period, followed by wind (4.82%), biomass (1.46%), geothermal (0.39%), and solar (0.29%).
‘For more than a decade, renewable energy sources – led by wind and solar – have been rapidly expanding their share of the nation's electrical generation,’ says Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. ‘The most recent data affirm that the trend is continuing unabated."