Report: U.S. Renewable Energy Maintained Strong Growth In First Half Of 2017

Domestic production and use of renewable energy sources continued to show strong growth during the first half of this year, while the consumption of both nuclear power and fossil fuels declined, according to a new analysis from the SUN DAY Campaign.

Citing the latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) “Electric Power Monthly” (with data through June 30), the nonprofit research and advocacy group says renewables accounted for 13.49% of domestic energy production during the first half of 2017 compared to 12.61% during the same period in 2016 and 10.88% in 2015. During the first six months of 2017, the group adds, energy produced from renewable sources was 10.29% higher than a year earlier and 21.34% higher than two years ago. On the consumption side (i.e., energy used for electricity, transportation, thermal, etc.), the pattern of growth is similar, with renewables accounting for 11.89% of energy use during the first half of 2017 compared to 10.77% in 2016 and 9.64% in 2015.

Comparing the first half of 2017 to that of 2016, solar production and use has grown by 39.86%, hydropower by 16.13%, wind by 15.65%, and geothermal by 1.80%, according to SUN DAY. In addition, U.S. production of biofuels increased by 2.99% and their use expanded by 2.30%. Only biomass energy (i.e., wood and waste) production and use dipped slightly – by 0.16%, the group says.

By comparison, SUN DAY notes, energy output from the nation’s nuclear power plants in the first half of 2017 was 3.27% lower than in the same period in 2016 and 2.29% lower than its 2015 level. As a share of the nation’s overall energy production, nuclear power is now less than one-tenth – just 9.44% – and even lower (8.40%) as a share of energy consumption. Moreover, the group says energy production from renewable sources is 42.90% greater than that from nuclear power (and 41.42% greater when comparing consumption levels).

Similarly, notwithstanding a 16.06% increase in U.S. coal production, the nation’s overall consumption of fossil fuels (i.e., coal, natural gas and oil) continued its downward slide from 81.73% of total energy use in the first half of 2015 to 80.31% for the same six-month period in 2016, and to 79.46% in 2017. As a consequence, SUN DAY says the nation experienced another small (0.59%) decrease in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions attributable to energy consumption. In addition, the gap between coal-based energy use and that from renewable sources is rapidly closing, with coal now outpacing renewables by just 15.62%.

“Notwithstanding desperate efforts by the Trump administration to prop up nuclear power and fossil fuels, they continue to lose ground to the mix of renewable energy sources,” comments Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Time to wake up and smell the coffee, Mr. President!”

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