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EIA 2012 year-end report shows renewable energy power generation up, with solar increasing 139%

The latest issue of the US Energy Information Administration's (EIA) "Electric Power Monthly," with preliminary data through to December 31, 2012, shows that non-hydro renewable sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) increased by 12.8% last year compared to 2011 and provided 5.4% of net US electrical generation.

Electricity generation from solar increased by 138.9% while wind grew 16.6%, geothermal by 9.6%, and biomass (i.e., wood, wood-derived fuels, and other biomass) by 1.6%. Since 2007, non-hydro renewables have more than doubled their contribution to the nation's electrical supply, the EIA report notes. 

At the same time (2012 compared to 2011), total net US electrical generation dropped 1.1% with petroleum coke & liquids down by 24.1%, coal by 12.5%, and nuclear by 2.6%. Significantly, coal (which only a decade ago provided more than half the nation's electricity) fell to 37.4% of net electrical generation while nuclear, for the first time in many years, slipped below 19.0%. Conventional hydropower also declined by 13.4% due to last year's drought and lower water flows, but natural gas expanded by 21.4% to provide 30.3% of net electrical generation.

Conventional hydropower and non-hydro renewable sources combined accounted for 12.22% of net US electrical generation: hydropower - 6.82%, wind - 3.46%, biomass - 1.42%, geothermal - 0.41%, and solar - 0.11%. However, as EIA has noted in the past, these figures do not comprehensively reflect distributed, non-grid connected generation and thereby understate the full contribution of renewables to the nation's electrical supply.

EIA's report also reveals the top renewable-electricity generating states for 2012:

  • Top Five Hydropower States: Washington, Oregon, California, New York, Idaho

  • Top Five Non-Hydro Renewables States: Texas, California, Iowa, Minnesota, Oklahoma

  • Top Five Wind States: Texas, Iowa, California, Oklahoma, Illinois

  • Top Five Biomass States: California, Florida, Maine, Georgia, Alabama

  • Top Five Geothermal States: California, Nevada, Utah, Hawaii, Idaho

  • Top Five Solar States: California, Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico

 “Technical advances, falling costs, and the desire to address climate change have combined to rapidly expand the contribution of renewable energy to the nation's electrical generation,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign, welcoming the news. “With the right policy incentives, one can foresee these cleaner energy sources providing the bulk of the nation's electrical needs within a generation.” 

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