Renewable electricity grew to 16.7% of total installed capacity, driven by increases in wind and solar

New figures from the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory show that US renewable electricity grew to 16.7% of total installed capacity and 13.8% of total electricity generation during 2015.

nrel-2The new numbers come by way of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) 2015 Renewable Energy Data Book (PDF) which was published this week on behalf of the US Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The report outlines US and global energy statistics, including obviously renewable electricity generation, development, investments, as well as technology-specific data and trends.

“Since it was first released in 2009, the Renewable Energy Data Book has provided useful insights for policymakers, analysts, and investors,” said NREL Energy Analyst Philipp Beiter. “The 2015 version of the data book highlights the ongoing trend of growing renewable energy capacity and generation in the United States and globally.”

Overall US energy consumption in 2015 declined to 97.7 quadrillion Btu, a 0.6% decline from 2014, while energy consumption remained at similar levels in 2015 for renewables and nuclear, as consumption for natural gas and petroleum increased. The US electric power sector energy consumption similarly dropped in 2015 to 38.1 quadrillion Btu, down 1.3% from 2014.

As mentioned, US renewable electricity grew to 16.7% of total installed capacity and 13.8% of total electricity generation, with installed renewable electricity capacity exceeding 194 GW and generating 567 TWh.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Renewable electricity accounted for 64% of US electricity capacity additions in 2015, compared to 52% in 2014.
  • Renewable electricity generation increased 2.4% in 2015.
    • Solar electricity generation increased by 35.8% (11.7 terawatt-hours)
    • Wind electricity generation increased by 5.1% (9.3 terawatt-hours)
    • Generation from hydropower dropped by 3.2% (-8.2 terawatt-hours).
  • The combined share of wind and solar as a percentage of renewable generation continued to grow in the US in 2015.
    • Hydropower produced more than 44% of total renewable electricity generation
    • Wind produced 34%, biomass produced 11%
    • Solar (photovoltaic and concentrating solar power) produced 8%
    • Geothermal produced 3%.
  • Wind electricity installed capacity increased by more than 12% (8.1 gigawatts) in a year, accounting for more than 56% of US renewable electricity capacity installed in 2015.
  • US solar electricity installed capacity increased by 36% (5.6 gigawatts), accounting for nearly 40% of newly installed US renewable electricity capacity in 2015.