Renewable Energy Powers More U.S. Electricity Than You Think - Energy Minute for October 7, 2013

Oct 7, 2013 8:00 PM ET
Press Release

A main complaint against renewable energy is its small scale. Critics claim that it makes up too small a piece of the U.S. energy pie to matter. And therefore, in a chicken-and-egg argument, renewable energy is undeserving of subsidies and tax credits to help the new industry get up and running. A recent Wall Street Journal article looks deeper into the numbers, and comes to a surprising conclusion: renewable energy provides more power to the American grid than you might think. When added up, all renewable sources—solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric power—combined for 12 percent of all U.S. electricity production last year. That figure has risen to 14 percent so far this year. It’s important to measure that 14 percent against the scale of our system, the second-largest electricity system in the world, accounting for 20 percent of the entire world’s electrical generation capacity. So comparatively, U.S. wind power’s five percent share of electrical generation is a big slice. The 60 gigawatts of wind power currently installed in the U.S. is more electricity generation capacity than the whole of Australia or Mexico, and half as much power as is generated overall in France or Brazil. The misleadingly total low share of power produced by renewable energy also doesn’t account for the fact that some states have a lot of green power and some, almost none. Texas has the biggest electricity system in the country and gets 11 percent from renewables, nearly all from wind. New York and Georgia have large power sectors, but get relatively small amounts from renewables. Looking more deeply into the details of a complex energy picture reveals a more progressive outlook than the conventional wisdom. I’m John Howell for 3BL Media. 

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