Non-Hydro Renewables Generate More Electricity Than Conventional Hydro for First Time

Historically large-hydro renewable sources like large dams have contributed most electrical generation from the combined renewable sources including wind, solar, biomass and geothermal. But the tide may be turning on the growing renewable energy mix.

Non hydro renewable energy sources outpace hydro for first time ever in 1st quarter 2014According preliminary data published in the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest Electric Power Monthly report, non-hydro renewable energy sources generated 53.16 percent of all U.S. net electrical generation from renewables for the period of January 1 to March 31, 2014. The contribution from hydropower was 46.84 percent.

The increase in non-hydro renewables was 11.3 percent higher than for the first quarter of 2013. Electrical generation from solar PV and solar thermal expanded 103.8 percent, wind power grew 12.6 percent, biomass by 2.2 percent. Geothermal generation fell by 3.3 percent.

Hydropower output dropped 4.5 percent from first quarter 2013 compared to first quarter 2014, possible due in part to the record-breaking drought in California.

Taking all sources into account, including hydropower, net electrical generation from renewable energy grew 3.29 percent in the first three months of 2014 as compared with the same period in 2013. In total, renewable energy sources contributed 13.9 percent of net U.S. electrical generation in the first quarter of 2013.

“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,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The most recent data affirm that the trend is continuing unabated.”

Image credit: NNSANews, courtesy flikcr

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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