Not since a time when wood was used to power many Americans homes has the U.S. consumed as much renewable energy as it does today, only this time it is solar, wind and hydroelectric power that is taking on the role as renewable energy du jour, finds a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
According to the EIA, renewable energy accounted for 9.8% of total domestic energy consumption in 2014 the highest energy share since the 1930s when the U.S. was mired in the Great Depression and fuel from wood was a major contributor to domestic energy.
Between 2001 and 2014, renewable energy use in the U.S. has grown by an average of 5% per year, with solar energy rising from 64 trillion Btu (British Thermal Units) to 427 trillion Btu. In 2014, hydroelectricity was the largest renewable source, although its percentage of the overall renewable share has decreased from its mid-to-late 1990s peak. Wood remains the second-largest renewable energy source, with demand for wood pellets increasing since 2011.
Recent data from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) revealed that solar has just enjoyed its best year yet, growing 34% in 2014 from 2013 figures, and surpassing 20 GW of cumulative capacity, which is enough solar energy to power 4 million U.S. households.