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Renewables' Share of U.S. Electricity Supply Soars in 2008

Mar 25, 2009 -

Washington DC - According to the latest figures published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its "Electric Power Monthly" report released on March 24, 2009, non-hydro renewable sources of electricity enjoyed double-digit growth during the past year while coal, natural gas, and petroleum experienced notable declines and nuclear power remained stagnant.

Specifically, EIA reports that net electricity generation in the United States dropped by 1.0 percent from during 2008 compared to 2007. Coal-fired generation was down by 1.1 percent, natural gas declined 2.2 percent, and petroleum liquids decreased by 37.1 percent.

Nuclear generation during 2008 was essentially stagnant – increasing by only 0.3 percent compared to the prior year.

On the other hand, EIA figures show that renewable energy, including conventional hydropower, increased by 5.9 percent during 2008 -- reflecting a combined increase of 0.9 percent in conventional hydropower coupled with a 17.6 percent increase in non-hydro renewables (i.e., solar, wind, geothermal, biomass).

In particular, according to EIA, net generation from wind sources was 51.0 percent higher than it had been in 2007 while solar electric generation jumped by 36.1 percent. More modest increases were enjoyed by geothermal (2.5 percent) and wood + other biomass (0.6 percent).

In 2008, conventional hydroelectric power provided 6.1 percent of the U.S.'s total net electricity generation, while other renewables (biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind) generated a bit more than 3.0 percent of electric power.

However, non-hydro renewables’ share of the nation’s electricity supply has been increasingly steadily. As of December 2008, non-hydro renewables had expanded their contribution to 3.4 percent. By comparison, non-hydro renewables accounted for 2.5 percent of electricity generation in 2007.

“Thirty years after the March 28 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, growth in that industry appears to have screeched to a halt,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “On the other hand, renewable energy is continuing the pattern of meteoric growth that it has been enjoying in recent years and likely to continue in the foreseeable future.”

The SUN DAY Campaign is a non-profit research and educational organization founded in 1993 to promote sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels.

Updated: 2003/07/28