Renewables Grew to 15.5% of US Electricity Capacity in 2014

A report published by NREL found that more than half of energy capacity added in the US in 2014 was renewable

2 min read
Renewables Grew to 15.5% of US Electricity Capacity in 2014
Illustration: Getty Images

Renewable electricity capacity reached 15.5% of the total installed electricity capacity in the US by the end of 2014, according to a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Installed capacity exceeded 179 gigawatts, generated 554 terawatt-hours.

NREL produced the 2014 Renewable Energy Data Book to "provide useful insights for policymakers, analysts, and investors," NREL Energy Analyst Philipp Beiter said in a statement.

The NREL team found that hydropower made up the vast majority of renewable electricity generation in 2014, followed by wind.

Although solar generation still made up a small mix of the renewables, at 6%, it accounted for 22% of total electricity capacity added in 2014.

Solar was one of the fastest-growing renewables during 2014, with California setting a record for solar power generation in March 2014 and nearly doubling its solar production in less than one year.

Renewables as a whole made up more than half of total electricity capacity added in 2014, with natural gas accounting for 47% of addition, and coal 1%.

Since 2004, renewable electricity capacity has grown 83%, from 98 GW to more than 179 GW in 2014. Even when hydropower is not included, renewable electricity generation has more than doubled since 2004.

With states implementing targets for renewables, such as California's goal of hitting 50% renewable electricity by 2030 and Hawaii's goal of 100%, as well global negotiations around climate change taking place this month Paris, renewables are likely to continue to grow.

In fact, according to the NREL report, investments in renewables grew in 2014 after two years of decline. In the US, investment in clean energy grew 11% to $40.8 billion in 2014, with wind and solar the biggest beneficiaries of those investments.

Of course there are still a number of factors pushing back on renewables' growth. The price of oil is falling and is predicted to stay low through 2016, utilities have started pushing back against the proliferation of rooftop solar by proposing transmission usage fees on customers, and of course the US's future political environment is uncertain.

The Conversation (0)

How to Prevent Blackouts by Packetizing the Power Grid

The rules of the Internet can also balance electricity supply and demand

13 min read
Vertical
How to Prevent Blackouts by Packetizing the Power Grid
Dan Page
DarkBlue1

Bad things happen when demand outstrips supply. We learned that lesson too well at the start of the pandemic, when demand for toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, masks, and ventilators outstripped the available supply. Today, chip shortages continue to disrupt the consumer electronics, automobile, and other sectors. Clearly, balancing the supply and demand of goods is critical for a stable, normal, functional society.

That need for balance is true of electric power grids, too. We got a heartrending reminder of this fact in February 2021, when Texas experienced an unprecedented and deadly winter freeze. Spiking demand for electric heat collided with supply problems created by frozen natural-gas equipment and below-average wind-power production. The resulting imbalance left more than 2 million households without power for days, caused at least 210 deaths, and led to economic losses of up to US $130 billion.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}