17.6 Percent Increase in Renewable Energy Generation in 2008

Alt Dot Energy
March 28, 2009

New figures released this week by the Energy Information Administration showed
that non-hydro renewable energy increased 17.6 percent in 2008 compared to the
year before.

Overall electricity generation was down 1 percent in 2008, most likely due to
the collapse of the economy. Electricity generation from coal and natural gas
declined by 1.1 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.

Wind, solar, geothermal and biomass, accounted for about 3 percent of total
generation, up from 2.5 percent in 2007.

Much of this growth in non-hydro renewable energy generation was spurred by the
wind and solar sectors, which increased in 2008 by a robust 51 percent and 36
percent, respectively.

Despite the boom overall, the recession and tight credit markets are setting
renewable energy up for weaker 2009. The wind and solar trade associations
predict a slower first half of 2009 relative to 2008, according to Ken Bossong,
executive director of Sun Day Campaign, a Maryland-based nonprofit that promotes
renewable energy technologies.

Bossong said “But based on the projects I’m reading about that are going to come
online, I still see some growth,” , estimating wind and solar will each still
enjoy generation growth rates of about 25 percent in 2009. He also sees a larger
generation increase for geothermal due to projects that will be up and running
this year and next.

The N.Y. Times reported Thursday that the stimulus package is in the early
stages of reviving interest in wind and solar projects. The package includes
several provisions meant to fulfill President Barack Obama’s goal of doubling
renewable electricity generation in the U.S. in three years. The provisions
include a loan guarantee program, 30 percent investment tax credits and 30
percent installation grants.


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