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In 2020, consumption of renewable energy in the United States grew for the fifth year in a row, reaching a record high of 11.6 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), or 12% of total U.S. energy consumption. Renewable energy was the only source of U.S. energy consumption that increased in 2020 from 2019; fossil fuel and nuclear consumption declined. Our U.S. renewable energy consumption by source and sector chart shows how much renewable energy by source each sector consumes.

We convert sources of energy to common units of heat, called British thermal units (Btu), to compare different types of energy that are usually measured in units that are not directly comparable, such as gallons of biofuels compared with kilowatthours of wind energy.

We use a fossil fuel equivalence to calculate primary energy consumption of noncombustible renewables (wind, hydro, solar, and geothermal), which are not burned to generate electricity and therefore do not have an inherent Btu conversion rate. In this approach, we convert the noncombustible renewables from kilowatthours to Btu using the annual weighted-average Btu conversion rate for all fossil fuels burned to generate electricity in the United States during that year to estimate the amount of fossil energy replaced by these renewable sources.

We use the fossil fuel equivalency approach to report noncombustible renewables’ contribution to total primary energy, in part, because the resulting shares of primary energy are closer to the shares of generated electricity. This calculation also represents the energy that would have been consumed if the electricity from renewable sources had instead been generated by a mix of fossil fuels.


Wind energy, or electricity generated by wind-powered turbines, is almost exclusively consumed in the electric power sector. Wind energy accounted for about 26% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. Wind surpassed hydroelectricity in 2019 to become the single most-consumed source of renewable energy on an annual basis. In 2020, U.S. wind energy consumption grew 14% from 2019.

Hydroelectric power, or electricity generated by water-powered turbines, is almost exclusively consumed in the electric power sector. It accounted for about 22% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. U.S. hydropower consumption has remained relatively flat since the 1970s, but it fluctuates with seasonal rainfall and drought conditions.

Wood and waste energy, including wood, wood pellets, and biomass waste from landfills, accounted for about 22% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. Industrial, commercial, and electric power facilities use wood and waste as a fuel to generate electricity, produce heat, and manufacture goods.

Biofuels, including fuel ethanol, biodiesel, and other renewable fuels, accounted for about 17% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. U.S. biofuel consumption fell 11% from 2019 as overall transportation sector energy use declined in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Solar energy accounted for about 11% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, including rooftop panels, and solar thermal power plants use sunlight to generate electricity. Some residential and commercial buildings use solar heating systems to heat water and the building. Overall, 2020 U.S. solar consumption increased 22% from 2019.

Principal contributor: Mickey Francis

Source:U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review. Note: Click for full U.S. renewable energy chart.

Courtesy of Today in Energy — U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)


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The US just made a big decision about Chinese solar – here’s what it means

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The US just made a big decision about Chinese solar – here's what it means

The US Department of Commerce (DOC) has determined that four out of eight Chinese solar companies that it’s been investigating are “attempting to bypass US duties by doing minor processing in one of the Southeast Asian countries before shipping to the United States.” Here’s what it means for the US solar industry.

The DOC found that the four Chinese companies that attempted to circumvent US duties by processing in Southeast Asia are:

  • BYD Hong Kong, in Cambodia
  • Canadian Solar, in Thailand
  • Trina, in Thailand
  • Vina Solar, in Vietnam

The DOC findings are preliminary, and the agency will conduct in-person audits in the coming months. The DOC also noted that a ban is not going to be implemented on products from Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam:

Companies in these countries will be permitted to certify that they are not circumventing the [antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders], in which case the circumvention findings will not apply. 

The DOC also notes:

Further, some companies in Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam did not respond to Commerce’s request for information in this investigation, and consistent with longstanding practice, will be found to be circumventing.

As Electrek reported in mid-May, the DOC launched an investigation of whether Southeast Asian solar cell manufacturers are using parts made in China that would normally be subject to a tariff.

That investigation destabilized the US solar industry, which relies on solar module imports to meet growing demand. The majority of the US solar industry then asserted that the DOC investigation would harm the US solar industry and wanted the investigation dismissed.

On June 6, President Joe Biden waived tariffs for 24 months on solar panels made in Southeast Asia in response to the investigation. He also invoked the Defense Production Act to spur on US solar panel and other clean energy manufacturing. That way, domestic production could be sped up without interfering in the DOC investigation.

The DOC today asserted that Biden’s presidential proclamation provides US solar importers with “sufficient time to adjust supply chains and ensure that sourcing isn’t occurring from companies found to be violating US law.”

But Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), didn’t see it that way. She said in a statement:

The only good news here is that Commerce didn’t target all imports from the subject countries. Nonetheless, this decision will strand billions of dollars’ worth of American clean energy investments and result in the significant loss of good-paying, American, clean energy jobs. While President Biden was wise to provide a two-year window before the tariff implementation, that window is quickly closing, and two years is simply not enough time to establish manufacturing supply chains that will meet US solar demand.

This is a mistake we will have to deal with for the next several years.

George Hershman, CEO of SOLV Energy, the US’s largest utility-scale solar installer, also wasn’t pleased about the DOC’s announcement. He said in an emailed statement:

After years of supply chain challenges and trade disruptions, I remain concerned that the Commerce Department chose a path that could jeopardize the solar industry’s ability to hire more workers and construct the clean energy projects needed to meet our country’s climate goals.

The upside is that Commerce took a nuanced approach to exempt a number of manufacturers rather than issuing a blanket ban of all products from the targeted countries. While it’s positive that companies will be able to access some of the crucial materials we need to deploy clean energy, it’s still true that this ruling will further constrict a challenged supply chain and undercut our ability to fulfill the promise of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Photo: Tom Fisk on Pexels.com


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Hyundai showcases ‘sustainable high performance’ EV tech in IONIQ5 N teaser video

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Hyundai showcases 'sustainable high performance' EV tech in IONIQ5 N teaser video

Hyundai checked all the boxes with its award-winning IONIQ5, its first dedicated electric vehicle. The bold, futuristic-looking EV has earned high praise thus far with long-range capabilities, advanced features, and a smooth ride.

However, after teasing the IONIQ5 N in a new video, Hyundai has confirmed its race-inspired N-line will enter the new era of electric vehicles. Giving a new meaning to sustainable high performance.

What is sustainable high performance? In the simplest form, it’s high-performance electric vehicles that produce zero emissions.

However, Hyundai is spinning that by developing zero-emission EVs that can achieve high performance for prolonged periods (sustainable).

Hyundai’s N-line was born in 2012 by a hand-picked team of “elite research” staff members. The company’s high-performance line began attracting several higher-ups from BMW and Mercedes-Benz AMG.

The Hyundai N-line represents “three N DNA pillars,” including:

  1. Corner Rascal: driving enthusiasts must be able to handle corners, hence the “N.”
  2. Race Track Capability: Hyundai’s N-line vehicles must be “performance ready” at all times.
  3. Everyday Sports Car: N models are built not only to crush the racetrack but also for everyday driving situations.

The South Korean automaker will build upon these principles as it transitions to an electric future, giving us a glimpse into what that could look like with the Hyundai IONIQ5 N.

Hyundai IONIQ5 N is the future of sustainable high performance

The new video reveals how Hyundai is using its rolling lab, or what the company calls its “playground,” to bridge its motorsports DNA directly into its N-line models.

Hyundai-IONIQ5-N
Hyundai RN22e Source: Hyundai

Hyundai began the RN22e project with a mission of setting a new stand in electrified high performance. The RN22e (which looks like an aggressive IONIQ6) is based on Hyundai’s E-GMP, which the IONIQ5 and IONIQ6 ride on, but includes several new features allowing it to live up to the “N” name.

One of Hyundai’s newest technologies is called the “E-TVTC,” which is:

A faster reacting torque vectoring technology that matches the instant torque of an EV, fending off the understeer.

Hyundai’s RN22e is the first four-wheel drive rolling lab. Dual motors sit at the front and rear axles, allowing precise power distribution.

To control battery heat (which can reduce performance), Hyundai is focusing on finding the perfect balance between aerodynamic efficiency and cooling. And for high-performance fans that like the “thrust” and sounds an EV does not typically feature, Hyundai is adding N Sound and N e-shift.

The automaker says it’s ready for the era of electrification with the IONIQ5 N, which will likely share the technology. Hyundai gives us a sneak peek into what the IONIQ5 N will look like, wrapped in camouflage at the very end alongside the RN22e and N Vision 74 (a hydrogen hybrid vehicle).

Although Hyundai doesn’t release specific powertrain specs, it’s likely to match the new Kia EV GT, with 577 hp and 0 to 62 in 3.5 seconds. You can watch the full video here.

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This county is the first on the US East Coast to ban natural gas

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This county is the first on the US East Coast to ban natural gas

Montgomery County, Maryland, will be the US East Coast’s first county to ban natural gas in new buildings.

Montgomery County will require all new construction to only use electric energy equipment. Montgomery County, which is just north of Washington, DC, has a population of just over 1 million, so this is an impactful decision for the region.

That means specifically that all new buildings in the county will need to go electric for heating, hot water heating, and cooking from the end of 2026. However, income-restricted housing and schools will have until the end of 2027.

The Montgomery County Council backed the gas limits with a 9-0 vote, and the county executive is expected to sign off on Bill 13-22, “Comprehensive Building Decarbonization.”

About half of the county’s emissions come from buildings, so environmental groups welcomed the decision. Mike Tidwell, director of climate change public policy advocate group CCAN Action Fund, said about Bill 13-22 on November 17:

Our safety and health will benefit from a move to all-electric buildings, and we will be doing our part to address climate change.

Unsurprisingly, the natural gas industry isn’t as enthusiastic. E&E News reports:

Representatives from Washington Gas Light Co., which distributes gas to over a million customers in Montgomery County and the Washington area, said the ban focused on electrification “while dismissing other proven opportunities for decarbonization,” like mixing hydrogen into the natural gas system.

“We urge the Council to consider a more holistic approach to decarbonization, one that puts affordability, reliability, resiliency, and security at the forefront,” wrote the company in a July 26 filing to the County Council.

Electrification brings higher upfront costs to developers but lower operating costs in the long run.

Only two West Coast states, California and Washington, have banned the sale of all new natural gas-fired heaters and water heaters by 2030.

To date, no East Coast state has passed a natural gas ban. Massachusetts has a program that allows up to 10 cities to enact a natural gas ban, and New York State is considering one.

Read more: The largest electric school bus fleet in the US just launched in Maryland

Photo: Pixabay on Pexels.com


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