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Renewables Generated Ten Percent of U.S. Energy In March

Longer days, stronger wind and reduced electricity demand helped green energy break double digits for the first time

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In March, power generated by wind and solar energy in the United States topped ten percent for the first time, reports Reuters. The figure comes from a report released by the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration which keeps track of power generation.

The ten percent figure is encouraging, but the peak this time of year is somewhat expected. Spring usually marks a period of low electricity demand. It also is usually a time with strong winds and increasing daylight, which cause renewable power to spike. The agency expects wind and solar will represent a similar amount in their April report as well before decreasing a bit during the summer and increasing again in autumn. According to the report, both wind and solar are growing, and represented seven percent of total U.S. power generation in 2016.

Some states did even better than the average ten percent. In 2016, Iowa produced 37 percent of its electricity from wind and solar, Kansas produced 30 percent, Oklahoma produced 25 percent and Texas produced 13 percent. In absolute terms, however, Texas generated the most wind power in the U.S. last year.

As Julian Spector at Green Tech Media reports, those numbers will likely go up. Sixty percent of new power-generating capacity put online in 2016 came from wind and solar. U.S. Solar installations doubled in 2016 compared to 2015. However, it’s unlikely that renewables will make up the lion’s share of energy generation anytime soon, reports Sarah Gibbens at National Geographic. Under the Clean Power Plan, it was estimated that renewables would surpass energy production from coal by 2040. But with that plan’s future in doubt, natural gas and coal will likely remain the number one and number two energy sources for the foreseeable future.

Renewables are taking off in the rest of the world as well. Last week, the U.K.’s National Grid reported that for the first time 50.7 percent of the nation’s energy was coming from renewables—at least for the span of lunchtime on June 8. That same sunny, windy day, Germany powered two-thirds of its electricity demand using renewables. 

According to Ian Johnston at The Independent, renewable energy is on the rise. Last year the cost of renewable energy dropped 23 percent compared to the year before, making it more affordable. In fact, in several nations, including Denmark, Egypt, India, Mexico, Peru and the UAE, the price of renewables is now cheaper than fossil fuel production.

About Jason Daley

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and the environment. His work has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.

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