Earlier this year we learned that the U.S. doubled its rate of solar power growth in 2016 and last year also saw the completion of America's first offshore wind farm and plans for more along the East Coast. In a country as big as the U.S., it can often seem like progress is slow because even large renewable energy projects seem to be just a drop in the ocean when it comes to the our great energy consumption, but those drops are adding up.
This past March, the U.S. hit a major milestone by having wind and solar power account for 10 percent of energy generation in the country for the first time. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that increased capacity of both types of renewable energy sources over the past year along with seasonal increases in wind and solar power were to thank for the new record.
Wind picks up in spring in Texas. Oklahoma and nearby states which increases the output of the wind farms there and as daylight hours increase throughout spring, solar power output notches up too. The EIA predicts that the numbers for April will also show 10 percent or above for wind and solar power generation.
The numbers are expected to drop below 10 percent again for the summer as wind speeds slow, even though solar power output will be at its maximum. The EIA says that spring and fall tend to see the highest share of wind and solar power generation because not only are those outputs high, but electricity demand is lowest in those months.
In 2016, Texas had the the largest total amount of wind and solar energy generation of any state, with wind making up most of that while Iowa was the state with the greatest percentage of electricity generation coming from those sources, with wind and solar making up 37 percent of the state's electricity generation.
In most states with both wind and solar installations, wind makes up the much larger share of energy generation, but in two states -- California and Arizona -- the reverse is true.
In 2016, wind and solar made up 7 percent of the total energy mix for the year and as the trend for increased output from these sources continues, we'll hit the 10 percent mark annually very soon.