U.S. On Track for Record High Use of Renewable Energy

Recently released data showed U.S. breaking records for renewable energy use in March 2017. Published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, or EIA, the report had the wind and solar use at 8 and 2 percent, respectively, for a combined high total of 10%. The EIA consolidates and distributes climate and environmental information for legislators.

Typically, wind and solar provided energy is at its highest in the spring and autumn when power demand is lowest. The EIA suspects similar results to continue through April but to see the 10% record to slip in summer, as the temperatures rise. Still, 2016 saw an increase in renewables overall.

In the same report, it was noted that Texas created the most renewables of any state, mostly with wind power, but also solar. However, Iowa was the state with the highest proportion of total power to be provided by alternative energy. A third of the state’s power is sourced from the wind and the sun.

Coincidentally, the EIA report comes soon after President Trump’s controversial withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement. The same administration would like to see a reversal of the Obama era environmental regulations as well as a reinvigoration of coal production.

Overall, fossil fuels are still a main source of energy in America, even with alternative energy sourced power on the rise. Meanwhile, the U.S. is in danger of being left behind as growth in the industry is being matched worldwide, especially in China, India, Europe, and other countries. In fact, the first record-setting year was 2015 when more renewable energy infrastructure was built than infrastructure for traditional sources.

According to National Geographic, no matter the U.S. position regarding the Paris Climate Accord, we’re still on track for a better climate based on economics alone. Simply put, solar and wind power is more competitively priced than coal. With investment in the private sector pouring into renewables worldwide, wind turbines and solar panels are dropping in price and encouraging market growth. Recently, Tilos, Greece, an island in the Aegean Sea, announced that 100% of their energy would come from a single wind-powered turbine and a solar park working in combination.

With the Clean Power Plan, legislation enacted under the Obama administration, projections had a renewable energy exceeding coal as an energy source in 2040. If these regulations are dismantled, the EIA does not believe that reaching such a goal is unlikely. On the other hand, natural gas, despite controversies regarding fracking and pipelines, is still poised to pass both coal and renewables.

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