Record-breaking Month for Renewable Energy in the U.S.
by Nathaniel Baer on Thursday, June 29, 2017
In March of this year, for the first time, wind and solar generated more than 10% of electricity in the U.S. In Iowa and in much of the U.S., wind and solar installations boomed in 2016, accelerating a long-term trend in renewable energy growth. By March – when seasonal availability of both wind and solar is good – this new capacity helped renewables reach the 10% energy generation milestone.
The Department of Energy released information about this milestone earlier in June. The DOE expects renewables to meet or exceed 10% of U.S. electricity in April as well and we should see data on this released in July.
The DOE noted Iowa’s outsized contribution to U.S. renewable energy performance: Iowa led the U.S. with the most energy generation from renewables, at 37%, in 2016. This is well above – by over 5 times – the 7% contribution from renewables in the U.S. as a whole in 2016.
Wind generation performs well in Iowa in the spring and is allowing Iowa to use much less coal during spring months. For example, according to data filed by MidAmerican Energy earlier this year, MidAmerican’s wind generation in April 2016 was the second highest of all months and allowed MidAmerican to significantly reduce coal generation in that month: MidAmerican’s wind generation was nearly 5 times its coal generation in April 2016. In addition, MidAmerican’s wind generation was higher than its coal generation in February, March, April, May, November and December in 2016.
Iowa is adding significant amounts of new wind capacity in 2017 and over the next few years. We will reach 40% wind soon and are on our way to 50% wind by 2020. All of this is happening with strong reliability and lower than average electricity prices, among many other benefits.
For a summary of key facts about wind and solar in Iowa, please see updated fact sheets released by the Council and our members, the Iowa Wind Energy Association and the Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association.