Renewables are Booming Too

Published
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

Those of us in the petroleum industry have been tracking the rapid expansion of oil and gas production from shales and in the process we may not have noticed the rapid expansion of renewable energy, especially wind. The latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) statistics:

  • In 2003 wind was providing 0.1 quads (quadrillion BTUs) of the nearly-70 quads of energy produced in the U.S..
  • In 2013 wind was providing 1.6 quads of the 81.7 quads of energy produced in the U.S.
  • In 2013 all renewable energy represented 13 percent of electricity generated in the U.S.

Historically hydroelectricity represented the vast majority of renewable power it is now close to representing less than half of renewable generating capacity. Hydro-power capacity has increased slightly more than one percent in the past decade. Over the same period wind capacity has increased tenfold.

Looking forward EIA now estimates that renewable energy will provide 16 percent of U.S. electricity in 2014–this estimate assumes that there will be no production tax credit, which is the current status. Although it is still a small component, growth in non-hydro power renewable energy is expected to be a 140 percent from 2012 to 2040–greater than any other energy type.

EIA projections vary significantly depending on factors such as natural gas prices–low natural gas prices reduce renewable energy growth. Another important factor is the value of tax incentives for renewable energy. The federal production tax credit is not in effect at this time; if tax incentives for renewable energy are reinstated, renewable energy will grow more than twice as much as without the incentives.

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