Renewable energy is power derived from naturally available resources. Properly harnessed, sunlight, wind, rivers and biodegradable materials are all rich, available and sustainable sources of energy. When renewable energy sources are used, the demand for fossil fuels is reduced, and one more step towards sustainability is taken.
Renewable energy isn’t new. More than 150 years ago, wood—one form of biomass—supplied up to 90% of our energy needs. As the use of coal, petroleum, and natural gas expanded, the United States became less reliant on wood, but today, we are looking again at renewable sources to help meet our energy needs.
In 2011, only 13% of U.S. electricity was generated from renewable sources. Not satisfied with these numbers, NRCO is working hard to make renewable energy an accessible power source across the United States.
In 2011, wind generated about 3% of all U.S. electricity. That may seem like small fraction of total electricity production, but it was enough to power 10 million households across the country. And today, new technologies are making wind power even more efficient.
America’s first industrial use of hydropower to generate electricity was in 1880. Since then, hydropower has become the renewable energy source that produces the most electricity in the U.S., accounting for 6% of total U.S. electricity generation and 63% of generation from renewables in 2011.
While solar power only accounts for 0.04% of total U.S. electricity generation and 0.4% of renewables in 2011, it is becoming more prevalent as technological advancements make the cost of solar power more achievable.
Trees, crops, and waste are the most common sources of biomass energy. In the U.S., wood and wood waste (bark, sawdust, etc.) provide only 2% of the energy used. About 80% of the wood and wood waste fuel used in the U.S. is consumed by industry, electric power producers, and commercial businesses.