U.S. Renewable Energy Consumption Hits Record

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Renewable energy consumption in the United States continued to rise for the fourth year in a row in 2019, with wind energy and wood and waste energy each accounting for 24 percent of all renewable energy used in America, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Monday.

Last year, U.S. consumption of renewable energy reached a record 11.5 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), or 11 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, the EIA has estimated.

Of the renewable energy used, wind energy—almost exclusively used to produce electricity—accounted for 24 percent of U.S. renewable energy consumption. Last year, wind beat hydropower to become the most used renewable electricity generation source.

Wood and waste energy accounted for another 24 percent of U.S. renewable energy use in 2019, while hydroelectric power accounted for 22 percent of renewable energy consumption. Biofuels followed with a 20-percent share of renewable energy consumption.

Solar energy accounted for just 9 percent of renewable energy, but it saw the largest percentage growth among renewable sources in 2019, the EIA said.

Earlier this year, the EIA said that the rise of renewables and declining coal electricity generation resulted in energy consumption from renewables in the United States surpassing in 2019 coal consumption for the first time since 1885.

Last year, total U.S. renewable energy consumption increased by 1 percent compared to 2018, while coal consumption slumped by almost 15 percent year on year. In 2019, energy consumption from coal dropped for the sixth year in a row to its lowest level since 1964, according to EIA’s estimates using a fossil fuel equivalence to calculate electricity consumption of non-combustible renewables such as wind, hydro, solar, and geothermal energy.

Due to rising natural gas production and increased natural gas-powered generation, coal-fired electricity generation capacity continues to retire in the U.S. Following coal capacity retirements, electricity generation from coal has dropped significantly over the past decade to the point of reaching its lowest level in 42 years in 2019.

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