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Renewable Electricity Nearly Doubles Under Obama: ‘I Think They’re The Future. They’re Worth Fighting For’

By Stephen Lacey

"Renewable Electricity Nearly Doubles Under Obama: ‘I Think They’re The Future. They’re Worth Fighting For’"

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Non-hydro renewable electricity generation has nearly doubled since President Obama took office, reaching 5.75 percent of net electricity, according to figures from the Energy Information Administration.

In 2008, before Obama entered the White House, non-hydro resources like solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass represented just over 3 percent of generation. Today, they total nearly 6 percent.

Ken Bossong of the Sun Day Campaign has been meticulously following EIA generation figures over the years. In his assessment of the figures below, Bossong offers an historical perspective:

During 2008, the last full year of the Bush Administration, non-hydro renewables accounted for 3.06% of net electrical generation with an average monthly output of 10,508 gigawatthours. By mid-2012, the average monthly electrical generation from non-hydro renewables had grown by 78.70% to 18,777 gigawatthours. Comparing monthly electrical output in 2008 versus 2012, solar has expanded by 285.19%, wind by 171.72%, and geothermal by 13.53%. However, electrical generation from biomass dropped by 0.56%.

According to the latest issue of the monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” published by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects with data for the first half of 2012, 229 renewable energy projects accounted for more than 38% of new electrical generation capacity (not to be confused with actual generation). This includes 50 wind energy projects (2,367 MW), 111 solar energy projects (588 MW), 59 biomass projects (271 MW), 5 geothermal projects (87 MW), and 4 water power projects (11 MW).

New renewable energy electrical generating capacity was more than double that of coal (2 new units totaling 1,608 MW). No new nuclear capacity came on line during the first half of 2012. However, 40 new natural gas units came on line with 3,708 MW of capacity (42% of the total). Renewable energy sources now account for 14.76% of total installed operating generating capacity (water-8.66%; wind-4.30%, biomass-1.23%, geothermal-0.31%, solar**-0.26%). This is more than nuclear (9.16%) but less than natural gas (41.83%) and coal (29.66%). The balance comes from waste heat (0.07%).

As natural gas and renewable energy development has surged, net generation from coal has fallen substantially. According to the EIA figures, coal-fired electricity has dropped 20 percent since May of 2011. (The decline in domestic coal is mostly due to plants switching to natural gas, according to the EIA — not EPA regulations).

Obama himself acknowledged the surge in renewable energy yesterday during a campaign event at Colorado State University:

“You believed we could use less foreign oil and reduce the carbon pollution that threatens our planet. And in just four years, we have doubled the generation of clean, renewable energy like wind and solar. We developed new fuel standards for our cars so that cars are going to get 55 miles a gallon next decade. That will save you money at the pump.  It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a level roughly equivalent to a year’s worth of carbon emissions from all the cars in the world put together.”

“If your friends or neighbors are concerned about energy, you tell them, do we want an energy plan written by and for big oil companies?”

“Or do we want an all-of-the-above energy strategy for America — renewable sources of energy. Governor Romney calls them ‘imaginary.’ Congressman Ryan calls them a ‘fad.’ I think they’re the future. I think they’re worth fighting for.”

In 2011, global investments in renewable energy surpassed investments in fossil fuels for the first time. Since 2004, one trillion dollars have been invested in the global clean energy sector.

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7 Responses to Renewable Electricity Nearly Doubles Under Obama: ‘I Think They’re The Future. They’re Worth Fighting For’

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Sorry, Mr. Obama, you’ll earn our trust when you direct Salazar to stop handing out drilling and mining permits like they were Christmas cards. It is not acceptable to enable drilling in the Arctic, coal exports from the Rockies, and filthy oil from Canada.
    Renewables are not growing nearly fast enough, because dirty fuels are not only not priced for carbon, but continue to receive subsidies. There are a number of administrative remedies available to you, and not just through EPA.

    Guess what: the world has this little global warming problem. All of your land use and energy decisions need to take that into consideration, instead of treating fossil fuel companies and climate activists as if they were interest groups who needed to be appeased.

    • Tami Kennedy says:

      I have to agree Mike that Pres. Obama has been opening his regime to far too much expansion of carbon fuels. But we know Romney’s 2020 plan is only valuable for profits, not the environment. If Romney even got close to meeting his goal, which is only political noise, we likely reach a tipping point that makes the 450 ppm cap by 2050 impossible. I still think Obama has a chance of being persuaded. I knew Obama had conceded ground to the carbon industry’s favor when he started using the 100 year supply of natural gas in America’s energy plan.

      Maybe another extended severe drought recovering by tropical storm cycle will be a valuable learning experience.

      • Rob says:

        The risk is that if he is any more restrictive on domestic fossil fuels it is unlikely he will win the election and the other guy would be whole lot worse, it’s a better the devil you know situation.

    • Joe Doaks says:

      I agree too.

  2. Tami Kennedy says:

    Both parties fighting hard to reverse the downward trend in U.S. CO2 release. Obama too meek and weakening, Romney is downright regressive.

  3. Leif says:

    Solar PV works for me in the NW.
    Green is good for you.
    Green is good for your community.
    Green is good for the Economy.
    Green is good for the Nation.
    Green is good for the WORLD.
    Green is bad for ecocide fossil.
    GREEN IS GOOD!

  4. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    Renewable Energy is the future energy option to supplement the conventional energy in many countries. US has set a good example..
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
    Wind Energy Expert
    E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com