The Two Degree Difference: Renewable energy production surged by 21%


(WFFF) — 2020 was a great year for green energy, producing 21% of all energy in the U.S. That means wind, hydroelectric, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy all come in second to natural gas as a power source.

“We have seen growth across the country,” said Paul Lesure, President of Green Mountain Solar. “I think that is happening in a lot of larger businesses. You’ll read Amazon and Apple and even some utility companies are really adopting it.”

The US Energy Information Administration Data also shows the steady decline of coal, which dropped by 20% in all sectors since 2019. Coal use peaked in the US in 2007 and remained the top source of power until 2016, when natural gas took over.

In 2020, renewables such as solar and wind are on the rise, with solar up around 9% last year and wind energy up 14% in usage from 2019 to 2020. “We have seen a great adoption at the residential and small-scale commercial level because people are seeing their neighbors do it,” said Lesure. “Seeing other businesses doing it and realizing how there is an economic value here.”

Small scale installations of solar—like rooftop panels that feed into electricity networks—grew by 19%, while larger utility-scale solar projects increased by 26 percent from 2019 to 2020. However, solar power growth in Vermont seems to have stalled in recent years compared to the rapid growth seen across the country.

“Five, six years ago, we were one of the leaders in the country in terms of solar installed per capita. Since then, the Public Utility Commission and Department of Public Service has started to put up more barriers and take away incentives for people going solar,” said Lesure. “Though we are seeing the national trends grow, we are not seeing it grow as much locally.” 

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