Non-Hydro Renewables Grew 11 Percent in 2014 –
The latest Electric Power Monthly report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), with data through the end of 2014, shows renewable energy leading the pack for net electrical generation growth last year, up 10.9 percent compared to 2013. Solar power’s contribution to net generation more than doubled, up 102.8 percent. Wind generation grew by 8.3 percent, biomass by 5.7 percent and geothermal up by 5.4 percent.
Natural gas generation declines
By comparison, net electrical generation from natural gas declined by 0.3 percent in 2014 over the previous year and conventional hydro contracted by 3.7 percent. Nuclear power increased by 1 percent and coal eked out a modest 0.3 percent increase.
Overall net electrical generation from all sources grew in 2014 by 0.7 percent.
Underestimating renewable energy growth
Despite a tendency for the EIA to underestimate renewable energy growth in the United States, non-hydro sources of renewable energy generation more than tripled over the past decade. When including hydropower, renewable energy sources accounted for 13.19 percent of electrical generation for 2014. Even more significantly, last year was the first time non-hydro sources of energy provided more electrical generation than hydropower, at 281,060 megawatt hours (Mwh) vs. 258,749 Mwh respectively.
Even these numbers from the EIA almost certainly underestimate the contribution to electrical supply from renewable energy, as the EIA does not report generation from distributed and off-grid sources such as rooftop solar.
With consistent growth in new generation capacity from renewables through all of 2014, renewable energy growth is likely decades ahead of EIA’s previous estimates.
“Given current growth rates – especially for solar and wind, it is quite possible that renewable energy sources will reach, or exceed, 14% of the nation’s electrical supply by the end of 2015,” noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “That is a level that EIA, only a few years ago, was forecasting would not be achieved until the year 2040.”
Surely the real source of economic growth and energy security – the true “boomtown“- lay with an increasing focus on the development and deployment of renewable energy.
The SUN DAY Campaign is a non-profit research and educational organization founded in 1992 to aggressively promote sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels.
Graph courtesy of windpowerengineering.com
Image credit: Tau Zero, courtesy flickr