Renewable energy might very well beat out coal, nuclear, and natural gas as our number one source of energy. This July, every new power generating plant that opened in the US sources renewable energy.
Renewable energy is seeing an upsurge because it’s the cheapest energy alternative. Natural gas is beating wind and solar power by only a small margin in this year’s installed capacity (MW). If residential and commercial rooftops using solar power — called distributed solar energy — were added to the equation, then the number of solar units installed would be equal to natural gas in 2014.
While the previous table tells us the source of electricity generation, we should note that wind and solar energy only make a small percentage of the energy we actually use in the US.
Renewable energy’s climb is slow, but the trend is showing that renewables will soon replace coal and nuclear power. Natural gas remains a favorable source because it is still low in cost and can retain renewables and other energy sources for future use.
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) published further data that shows how the US’s electricity prices have grown over the year. While costs rose in New England and the Mid-Atlantic due to increased wholesale prices from electricity generators, costs decreased on the Pacific coast — California, Oregon, Washington — because these states have installed more solar energy in the last year.
Renewables are a superior energy source in comparison to fossil fuels. Not only can wind and solar energy become cheaper, but both also prevent more greenhouse gases from being released into our environment.
Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan
September 8, 2014
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