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2017 Renewable Energy Data Book

Mar 11, 2019

The Renewable Energy Data Book for 2017 provides facts and figures on renewable energy deployment in the United States, with context of U.S. and global energy trends.

Key Findings:

In 2017, the U.S. experienced a modest increase in energy consumption, rising by 0.2% to reach 97.7 quadrillion Btu. This growth was driven by a surge in renewables, which grew by 7.4%, and a slight uptick in petroleum consumption by 0.6%. In contrast, there were declines in the consumption of natural gas by 1.4%, nuclear by 0.1%, and coal by a notable 2.6%. The electric power sector continued its trend of reduced energy consumption, witnessing a 1.3% decline to 37.2 quadrillion Btu.

The renewable energy landscape was particularly vibrant. Renewable electricity in the U.S. accounted for 19.7% of the total installed capacity and 17.7% of the total electricity generation. The installed capacity for renewable electricity surpassed 232 gigawatts (GW) in 2017, translating to a generation of 715 terawatt-hours (TWh). Breaking it down, hydropower was the dominant force, contributing over 41.9% of total renewable electricity generation. Wind and solar followed, with wind accounting for more than 35% and solar (both photovoltaic [PV] and concentrating solar power [CSP]) contributing over 11%. Biomass and geothermal also played their parts, contributing nearly 9% and more than 2% respectively.

The year also saw renewable electricity making up 60% of U.S. electricity capacity additions, a slight decrease from the 67% in 2016. Coal-fired generation, on the other hand, made up a significant 54% of the retirements that year. Wind energy had a strong year with its capacity increasing by over 8.3%, representing more than 43% of the renewable electricity capacity installed. By the end of 2017, wind generation had increased by 12% compared to the previous year, reaching a total of 254 TWh. Solar wasn't far behind, with its electricity capacity growing by a robust 26%, making up more than 56% of the new U.S. renewable electricity capacity for the year and achieving a generation total of 81 TWh.

While U.S. hydropower capacity remained consistent from 2000 to 2017, there were slight reductions in biomass and geothermal electricity capacities. On the global front, renewable electricity capacity continued its upward trajectory, accounting for 32.2% of the total electricity capacity worldwide in 2017. Solar PV stood out as one of the fastest-growing technologies globally, with a remarkable 32.7% increase in capacity. Lastly, investments in clean energy on a global scale saw a 3% increase from 2016, totaling $333 billion.

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