Renewable energy resources – including water, wind, biomass, geothermal, and solar – are abundant and geographically diverse across the United States, and can be used to generate electricity, provide thermal energy, fuel industrial processes, or make transportation fuels. The deployment of renewable energy technologies has grown rapidly in recent years as the nation looks to meet growing demand, diversify its energy supply, and reduce the carbon emissions which cause climate change. But how do the various renewable energy technologies compare to fossil fuels and nuclear power when costs, climate, timing, and flexibility are all imperative?
This fact sheet will focus on renewable electricity, which has grown 86.6 percent since 1998 and now comprises 10.6 percent of total U.S. electric generation. Deployment characteristics such as total capacity, project size, cost trends, construction timelines, and impact on carbon emissions of renewable electricity technologies will be compared. Several aspects of renewable thermal (heating and cooling) energy will be addressed as well. It should be noted that about 40 percent of U.S energy is used by buildings for heating and cooling.
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