Biofuels, biomass making mark as renewable market share grows

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, January 11, 2012 -Data from the DOE's Energy Information Administration through the first three quarters of 2011 shows renewable energy sources continue to grow rapidly and are outpacing the growth rates of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

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Renewable energy resources ‑ including biomass, biofuels, geothermal, solar, water and wind ‑ provided nearly 12% of domestic U.S. energy production through September, 2011, compared to just less than 11% for the same period in 2010 and 10.33% in 2009. By comparison, nuclear power provided 10.62% of the nation's energy production in the first three quarters of 2011, about 11% less than renewables.

The EIA says renewable energy sources, including biomass, geothermal, solar, water and wind, provided 12.73% of net U.S. electrical generation, an increase of nearly 25% compared to the same nine-month period in 2010. By comparison, electrical generation from coal dropped by 4.2% while nuclear output declined by 2.8%. Natural gas electrical generation rose by 1.6%.

Conventional hydropower accounted for 8.21% of net electrical generation during the first nine months of 2011 ‑ an increase of 29.6% compared to 2010. Non-hydro renewables accounted for 4.52% of net electrical generation (wind - 2.73%, biomass - 1.34%, geothermal - 0.4%, and solar - 0.05%). Compared to the first three quarters of 2010, solar-generated electricity expanded in 2011 by 46.5%; wind by 27.1%, geothermal by 9.4%, and biomass by 1.3%.

Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, which analyzed the EIA data, said, “Notwithstanding the recession of the past three years, renewable energy sources have experienced explosive rates of growth that other industries can only envy.”

Bossong contended that federal investments in sustainable energy, as well as those made by state and private funders, “have paid off handsomely, underscoring the short-sightedness of emerging proposals to cut back on or discontinue such support.”



Original story printed in January 11, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.

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