This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
EIA: Other Renewables Surpassing Hydropower Generation
Last April marked the eighth consecutive month that total monthly U.S. non-hydro renewable generation exceeded hydropower generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Only a decade ago, hydropower accounted for three times as much generation in the United States as non-hydro renewable sources including wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, landfill gas, and municipal solid waste.
October 2012 was the first month on record in which U.S. non-hydro renewable generation exceeded hydropower generation. Although this reversal was short-lived because of the significant month-to-month variation in both hydro and non-hydro resources, the trend lines began to cross each other more frequently in the past year, with the most recent reversal lasting from September 2013 through April 2014.
While hydropower once again exceeded non-hydro renewable generation in May 2014, EIA projects that 2014 will be the first year in which annual nonhydro renewable generation surpasses annual hydropower generation. Hydropower capacity has increased by slightly more than 1% over the past decade, although actual hydropower generation can vary noticeably by season depending on water supply conditions. Wind power capacity, on the other hand, has increased nearly tenfold over that same period. Although wind power often has lower capacity factors than hydropower, wind generation increased from 3% to more than 30% of total renewable generation between 2003 and 2013. See the EIA's "Today in Energy" for July 31st.