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Distributed renewable energy is now a mainstream commercial factor in USA

The data submission forms the EIA uses do not catch every last TWh, and indeed, don’t include solar photovoltaic generation from systems less than 1 megawatt in size. This smaller capacity segment includes most residential and commercial distributed PV systems.

renewable energy is clearly moving beyond “niche” status. It’s a mainstream source that will increasingly challenge existing electricity generation and provision business models, particularly as distributed solutions (electric vehicles, demand response, PV, etc.) take off

Renewable Energy Supplies 7% US Electricity, Has Anyone Noticed? SustainableBusiness.com News, by Dan Seif, Rocky Mountain Institute, 29 June 12,  Between April 2011 and March 2012, the US generated 5% of its annual electricity from renewable sources, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

To be exact, the US generated 204 terawatt-hours (TWh) out of 4,070 TWh from non-hydro renewables – solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and small hydro.

Putting this annual total of non-hydro renewable generation in context, this is:

More than the total electrical use of 197 nations (92% of all nations), including Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey, and Thailand.
More than the combined electrical use of the Philippines, Switzerland, and Malaysia.
Enough electrical energy to power about 16 million American homes, deducting about 10% for transmission and distribution losses.
The data submission forms the EIA uses do not catch every last TWh, and indeed, don’t include solar photovoltaic generation from systems less than 1 megawatt in size. This smaller capacity segment includes most residential and commercial distributed PV systems.

Including these systems would likely add about another 0.1% of generation (so ~5.1 percent in total) based upon PV capacity from NREL’s Open PV Project data.

Also, including small hydro (less than 10 MW in capacity) in the mix would yield a renewable generation total above 6%, perhaps even above 7%.

What’s even more impressive is that non-hydro renewable generation has grown approximately 150% since 2004, primarily from utility-scale wind, with the preceding 13 years seeing generally flat-line growth……

In absolute terms, however, the U.S. still has a large presence in renewables, leading all nations in project investing in 2011 according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

And at 7%, it meets the targets detailed in Amory Lovins’s Reinventing Fire, which requires meeting that goal in 2012 to get to over 80% of generation by 2050.

Also a success is the drop in demand for electricity, driven by gains in efficiency. Even with 2% GDP growth between the first quarter (Q1) of 2011 and Q1 2012, electrical generation declined.

We appear to be heading toward an electrical demand year as low as 2009 (when the economy was in much rougher shape than today), and potentially the lowest we’ve seen since 2003. Perhaps the energy efficiency revolution is kicking into higher gear earlier than many had prognosticated.

The Takeaway

What might be the most relevant takeaway is that renewable energy is clearly moving beyond “niche” status. It’s a mainstream source that will increasingly challenge existing electricity generation and provision business models, particularly as distributed solutions (electric vehicles, demand response, PV, etc.) take off…. http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/23832

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June 30, 2012 - Posted by | decentralised, USA

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