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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First Time Ever: Renewable Energy Accounts for Largest Share of Annual Increase in US Electrical Capacity

by Brian Merchant, Brooklyn, New York

Some good news 'mongst all these ongoing recession woes: progress continues to be made on the alternative energy front. For the first time, renewable energy sources accounted for the biggest share in the increase of US's electrical capacity. This means that, thanks mostly to the burgeoning wind power industry, more renewable energy sources sprung up in 2007 than environmental ne'er do wells like coal-burning plants. So why is this significant?

It means we're witnessing a paradigm shift—one that's been a long time coming, in the words of the great Sam Cooke—and that a change gon' come in the attitudes and ambitions of energy developers. Sure, some really good news would be that renewable energy sources accounted for the largest share in the US electrical capacity PERIOD. But this is a genuinely encouraging figure.

The numbers come from a newly released report called Electrical Power Annual 2007, and they speak volumes:

In 2007, general electrical capacity increased by 2.3%, from 4,065 million megawatt-hours in 2006 to 4,157 MWh in 2007. The total net summer capacity saw total increase of 8,673 MW. And out of that, wind power alone accounted for 5,186 MW: the largest portion of the energy increase pie graph.

We've still got a ways to go: renewable energy only accounts for a total of 2.5 % of total electrical capacity, with 105 million MWh of total net generation.

Original here

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