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Data Book Shows Continued Growth of Renewable Electricity


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The Renewable Energy Data Book shows that U.S. renewable electricity grew to 18.3 percent of total installed capacity and 15.6 percent of total electricity generation in 2016. Published annually by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Renewable Energy Data Book presents U.S. and global energy statistics compiled from numerous data sources, and includes renewable electricity generation, renewable energy development, clean energy investments, and technology-specific data.

The 2016 Renewable Energy Data Book also summarizes renewable energy trends in the U.S. and globally with graphics and data-centric charts for wind, solar, biopower, renewable fuels and more.

"The data provides useful insights for analysts, investors, and policymakers on the state of renewable energy deployment and industry trends," NREL Energy Analyst Philipp Beiter said. "The Data Book presents a unique collection of data from a large variety of sources, made easily accessible in one place." 

The Renewable Energy Data Book, published at the end of 2017, compiles the latest available statistics for the 2016 calendar year. Key insights include:

  • Renewable electricity accounted for 67 percent of U.S. electricity capacity additions in 2016, compared to 64 percent in 2015.
  • Renewable electricity generation increased 13.5 percent in 2016. Solar electricity generation increased by 52.1 percent (23.3 terawatt-hours), wind electricity generation increased by 18.8 percent (35.8 terawatt-hours), and hydropower generation increased by 6.7 percent (16.7 terawatt-hours). 
  • The combined share of wind and solar generation (294 terawatt-hours) continued to grow in the U.S in 2016, exceeding hydropower generation (266 terawatt-hours) for the first time. Hydropower produced nearly 42 percent of total renewable electricity generation, wind produced more than 35 percent, solar (photovoltaic and concentrating solar power) produced nearly 11 percent, biopower produced nearly 10 percent, and geothermal produced nearly 3 percent.
  • Wind electricity installed capacity increased by more than 11 percent (8.1 gigawatts) in the year, accounting for more than 40 percent of U.S. renewable electricity capacity installed in 2016.
  • U.S. solar electricity installed capacity increased by 52 percent, accounting for nearly 57 percent of newly installed U.S. renewable electricity capacity in 2016.
  • In 2016, California continued with the most installed renewable electricity capacity of any U.S. state (nearly 35 gigawatts), followed by Washington (nearly 25 gigawatts) and Texas (more than 22 gigawatts). California has a diverse mix of renewables led by solar photovoltaic, hydropower and wind. In Washington, the main contributor to renewable capacity is hydropower, while wind is the largest contributor in Texas.   
  • Installed renewable electricity capacity increased to 31 percent of total electricity capacity worldwide in 2016.Renewables accounted for nearly 26 percent of all electricity generation worldwide.
  • U.S. corn ethanol production, which is the largest globally, increased by nearly 3.7 percent to 15 billion gallons in 2016.
  • Alternative fueling stations in the U.S. increased by nearly 18 percent in 2016 to a total of more than 27,000 stations.
  • In 2016, global fuel cell shipments topped 516 megawatts, a 73 percent increase from 2015 and mostly due to transportation fuel cell shipments.

The Renewable Energy Data Book continues to be among NREL's most popular reports, frequently among the top five most downloaded publications each year. It is targeted toward a wide audience ranging from the interested public to the decision maker.  The Renewable Energy Data Book is produced by NREL's Strategic Energy Analysis Center.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC. Read full report here.

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