Eighteen percent of all electricity in the United States was produced by renewable sources in 2017, including solar, wind, and hydroelectric dams. That’s up from 15% in 2016, with the shift driven by new solar and wind projects, the end of droughts in the West, and a dip in the share of natural gas generation. Meanwhile, both greenhouse gas emissions from power generation and consumer spending on power declined.
Renewables’ share of U.S. energy consumption has now doubled since 2008, as coal’s share crashed in the same period from 48% to 30%. And while the Trump administration has signaled a desire to cut funding for renewable energy and efficiency programs, the trends seem set to continue thanks to market forces.
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Solar and wind projects made up roughly 62% of new power construction in 2017, as their cost continues to plummet. And 2.9 gigawatts of new renewable energy projects were initiated last year, while 12.5 gigawatts worth of coal plants are set to shut down in 2018 – also part of an accelerating trend. Thanks to that shift, the solar and wind industries are creating jobs faster than the rest of the economy.
The findings come from the 2018 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, produced each year by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Efficiency was another big takeaway from the report. While the U.S. economy has continued a healthy expansion, total U.S. energy consumption actually declined in 2017 by 0.2%, illustrating the economy’s ability to do more while consuming less power.