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Renewables surging in mix of U.S. energy generation

‘Tectonic Shift’ as coal use plummets; wind and solar rise.

October 12, 2015 |
Renewables surging in mix of U.S. energy generation

Power County Wind Farm in Idaho. From 2000 to 2014, wind power production grew 33 fold. Photo: Commons

A recent report by the National Resources Defense Council, “A Tectonic Shift in America’s Energy Landscape,” documents the shift towards renewable sources of energy.

Among the findings:

  • Electricity consumption grew at only half the rate of population growth from 2000 to 2014. This is attributable largely to huge efficiency contributions from utility programs and government efficiency standards.
  • Over that same period, wind power production grew 33 fold, providing more than 4% of total US power generation in 2014.
  • By mid-2015, solar power had exceeded 20,000 megawatts nationwide, with one-third of the total coming into service in just the past 12 months.
  • Roughly 10% of the nation's energy supply came from renewable sources last year.
  • America's power plants burned less coal in 2014 than in 1990, and the annual total is down more than 21% from the peak year of 2005. Since then, total emissions of carbon pollution from the energy sector are down 10%.
  • In the transportation sector, U.S. oil use was slightly lower in 2014 than 1973, even though the economy tripled in size during that time. The fuel efficiency of America's auto fleet has grown by 25% in the past decade.
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