Renewable energyexpands market share
Renewable energy`s share of the nation`s total energy supply increased to 7.6 percent in 1995, up from 7.1 percent in 1994, according to the new Energy Information Administration (EIA) report, Renewable Energy Annual 1996. The increase was due primarily to a weather-related 17 percent jump in electricity generation from hydroelectric power, as nonhydroelectric renewable energy remained near its 1994 level.
Since 1991, renewable energy consumption has increased slightly more than 2 percent per year. In 1995, 65 percent of all renewable energy consumed was used to generate electricity. Renewables provided 415 billion kWh of electricity in 1995, up 12 percent from 1994. Excluding hydropower, biomass accounted for 87 percent of the remaining renewable energy consumption in 1995. Biomass is commonly used in industrial applications for process heat and power.
U.S. pellet fuel production increased by 18 percent between the 1993-1994 and 1995-1996 heating seasons. In this process, wood fiber is converted to pelletized form for use in wood stoves. Production of energy from municipal solid waste (MSW) supplies, which grew rapidly during the 1980s, has leveled off during the 1990s as economic and legal issues have directed waste flows to cheaper landfills rather than to waste-to-energy facilities. However, it is not likely that the production of energy at landfills will increase significantly in the near term because of the relatively high cost.
California has, by far, more wind-powered generating capacity and electricity generation than any other state. Minnesota, however, has the most planned wind capacity. Nationwide, windpower produced 4 percent of nonhydro renewable electricity in 1995. Solar energy consumption rose by 7 percent in 1995, mostly as a result of increased use of solar panels for heating in the residential/commercial sector (primarily for swimming pools). The average price of solar thermal collectors dropped by 11 percent in 1995.
Shipments of photovoltaic (PV) modules and cells totaled 31.1 peak MW in 1995, an increase of 19 percent over 1994 shipments. Additions of installed wind turbine capacity reached their single-year high in 1995–a total of 1,289 MW–bringing the worldwide cumulative total to 4,900 MW.
While the United States has the most installed wind capacity (1,731 MW), India has the most planned wind capacity (700 to 1,200 MW to be added over the next 15 years). In the past 10 years, sales of PVs worldwide have more than quadrupled, while installed costs have dropped by more than half. The Philippines is the second-largest producer of geothermal electricity after the United States.
Copies of the full report are available from the U.S. Government Printing Office at (202) 512-1800.