Renewables Grow 27% in Three Years

Obama's energy agenda grows sector

Bill Opalka | Apr 02, 2012

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Renewable energy generation has grown nationally by 27% in the past three years, largely due to federal policy support and favorable tax policies, recently released data show.

According to the most recent issue of the Monthly Energy Review by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), with data through December 31, 2011, renewable energy sources expanded rapidly during the first three years of the Obama Administration while substantially outpacing the growth rates of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Wind came out the biggest winner of the renewables, more than doubling its output over the period.
 
Between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2011, renewable energy sources (biofuels, biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) grew by 27.1%. By comparison, during the same three-year period, total domestic energy production increased by just 6.7% with natural gas and crude oil production growing by 13.6% and 14.2% respectively. Nuclear power dropped by 1.9% and coal by 7.1% during the same time frame.
 
“The numbers speak for themselves - notwithstanding politically-inspired criticism, the pro-renewable energy policies pioneered by the Obama Administration have generated dramatic growth rates during the past three years, vastly outpacing those of all other energy sources,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The investments in sustainable energy made by the federal government as well as state and private funders have paid off handsomely underscoring the short-sightedness of emerging proposals to slash or discontinue such support.”

All energy sectors, not just electricity, saw renewable energy sources accounted for 11.7% of domestic energy production in 2011 – compared to 9.8% in 2008. In fact, renewable energy sources provided 10.9% more energy in 2011 than did nuclear power, although nuclear still provides a larger share of the nation’s electricity. (On the consumption side, which includes oil and other energy imports, renewable sources accounted for 9.29% of total U.S. energy use during 2011.)
 
During the first three years of the Obama Administration, geothermal grew by 15.63%, hydropower by 26.28%, solar by 28%, biofuels by 46.5%, and wind by 113.92%.
 
Looking at just the electricity sector, according to EIA’s "Electric Power Monthly," with data through December 31, 2011, net electrical generation by non-hydro renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) grew by 54.6% during the first three years of the Obama Administration. During the same period, conventional hydropower expanded by 27.6%.

Combined, electrical output from renewable energy sources was 36.5% greater for calendar year 2011 than it was for calendar year 2008. By comparison, between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2011, natural gas used in electrical generation grew by 15.1% while nuclear and coal dropped by 2% and 12.7% respectively.
 
Among the non-hydro renewables contributing to net electrical generation in 2011, wind accounted for 61.4%, followed by biomass (29.1%), geothermal (8.6%), and solar (0.9%).

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