Solar power and other renewable energy sources have expanded rapidly during the first three years of President Barack Obama's administration, substantially outpacing the growth rates of fossil fuels and nuclear power, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data cited by nonprofit The SUN DAY Campaign.
According to the most recent issue of the EIA's Monthly Energy Review, between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2011, renewable energy sources grew by 27.12%. By comparison, during the same three-year period, total domestic energy production increased by just 6.72% with natural gas and crude oil production growing by 13.66% and 14.27% respectively. Moreover, during the same period, nuclear power declined by 1.99% and coal dropped by 7.16%.
When all energy sectors (e.g., electricity, transportation, thermal) were examined, renewable energy sources accounted for 11.74% of domestic energy production in 2011, compared to 9.85% in 2008. In fact, renewable energy sources provided 10.90% more energy in 2011 than did nuclear power, although nuclear still provides a larger share of the nation's electricity. (On the consumption side, which includes oil and other energy imports, renewable sources accounted for 9.29% of total U.S. energy use during 2011.)
The SUN DAY Campaign also says that solar power has grown by 28.09% in the same time period. Hydropower accounted for 34.62% of domestic energy production from renewable sources in 2011, followed by biomass (26.75%), biofuels (22.20%), wind (12.75%), geothermal (2.42%) and solar (1.24%).
Net electrical generation by non-hydro renewable energy sources grew by 54.6% during the first three years of the Obama administration. Combined, electrical output from renewable energy sources was 36.5% greater for calendar-year 2011 than it was for calendar-year 2008.