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Published on July 30th, 2009 | by Zachary Shahan


Renewable Energy on the Rise, Fossil Fuels Declining

July 30th, 2009 by  


The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported good news for renewable energy enthusiasts this week. Energy from renewable resources has increased significantly over the last year. It is now higher than energy produced from nuclear power.

The EIA’s “Monthly Energy Review” released on July 28 shows that energy from renewable resources for January 1 to April 30, 2009 was 6% higher than for the same period of time in 2008.

In April of this year, renewable resources accounted for approximately 11.1% of total U.S. energy production. At this level, renewable resources have now passed up nuclear power in energy production. Nuclear power accounted for approximately 10.4% of total energy production during that month.

The renewable energy breakdown for the period of time measured was as follows: hydropower (34.6%), wood + wood wastes (31.2%), biofuels (19.0%), wind (9.3%), geothermal (4.7%), and solar (1.2%). Compared to the same period last year, wind increased by 34.5%, biofuels by 14.1%, hydropower by 8.2%, and geothermal by 2.6%. Solar power contributions remained basically the same and wood + wood waste decreased by 4.9%.

Interestingly, this shows that renewable resources are providing more and more of the country’s energy, but it is not necessarily from the popular resources we might be thinking of. Solar power is still a very low contributor and has not changed much in the last year. Wind has increased by the greatest percentage, but it is still only the fourth highest contributor.

Total energy use for the first quarter of the year was 5.7% lower than for the same period last year, and nearly all of the decline was in the fossil fuels sector.

What are the lessons for Congress in this, as they look to pass the country’s first climate/energy bill? Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the “SUN DAY Campaign”, says: “As Congress continues to debate energy and climate legislation, it would do well to take note of the clear trends in the nation’s energy mix. Fossil fuel use is dropping sharply and nuclear power is barely holding on to its market share while month-after-month the mix of renewable energy sources continues to set ever-higher records.”

Of course, this is uplifting. However, does it compare to what other leading nations are doing? Businesses and governments from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East are committed to creating a $560 billion solar project that will provide Europe with 20% of its energy by 2050. Are we going to keep up with these other nations and remain a world leader?

Data for this article come from Tables 1.1, 1.2, and 10.1 of the EIA’s “Monthly Energy Review” published on July 28, 2009.

The press release inspiring this article was received from Ken Bossong at the SUN DAY CAMPAIGN; 6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite #340; Takoma Park, MD 20912; 301-270-6477 x.23; sun-day-campaign@hotmail.com

Image credit 1: wolfpix via flickr under a Creative Commons license

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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

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