Wind, Solar Power Just Hit a US Milestone

For first time, nation draws 10% of electricity from wind and solar
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2017 6:47 AM CDT
Wind, Solar Power Just Hit a US Milestone
A file photo of General Electric wind turbines, part of the Pakini Nui Wind Farm project are seen in Kailua-kona, Hawaii.   (Michael Darden/West Hawaii Today via AP, File)

Double digits: A new report from the US Energy Information Administration reveals a milestone for alternative energy sources. For the first time, the nation as a whole drew 10% of its electricity from wind and solar farms in a single month, reports Climate Central. It happened in March, with wind accounting for 8% and solar 2%, notes Ars Technica. Final numbers for April aren't out yet, but scientists are pretty sure the 10% mark was reached then, too. The percentage is expected to dip below 10% as summer arrives and people crank up their air conditioners, but in general, the figure will likely continue its gradual creep upward as states ramp up their goals on renewable energy. Last year, March hit 8.6%.

"I believe that by 2020, we will see the first 15% month, possibly a little sooner," says Christopher Clack, a former NOAA researcher who now runs a company called Vibrant Clean Energy. "This will partly depend on the weather patterns in the year, but I could see substantial (wind and solar plant) additions before 2020 that will increase production to those levels." Generally speaking, wind and solar numbers peak in what are known as the "shoulder seasons" of spring and fall. Overall, the US gets about 7% of its electricity from wind and solar through the course of the year, but that's up from less than 1% about a decade ago. Among the states, Texas is the biggest producer of wind power and California of solar power. (More wind power stories.)

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