[Summary] Electricity Generation from Renewables in the United States

  • Title: Electricity generation from renewables in the United States: Resource potential, current usage, technical status, challenges, strategies, policies, and future directions 
  • Date: April 2013
  • Author: Atif Osmani, Jun Zhang, Vinay Gonela, Iddrisu Awudu
  • Published: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews

In 2011, the total electricity generated in the U. S. was 4.5 million GWh, while only 11% was produced from renewable resources. The potential and current usage of various renewables and some of the obstacles to the growth are summarized in the following table.

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There are some other challenges that face power utilities as well, including regulatory requirements for grid reliability, having to maintain diverse sources of electricity, and requirements for reserve power generation capacity.

The authors propose a set of measures to strategically increase feasibility of renewable generation; co-location of power generators, leveraging electricity storage technologies, and smart grids and smart meters.

Decision makers should refer to a more robust set of ‘multi criteria’ for sustainability assessment of renewable resource deployment, rather than a single economic consideration. Those are: cost of renewable electricity generation based on life cycle cost profile, environmental impacts such as biodiversity concerns, greenhouse gas emissions, and water usage, and social impacts.

Finally, the paper closes with several policy recommendations,  which ranges from reducing the fluctuations in tax incentives, equitable distribution of subsidies for different generation technologies, including environmental cost in the retail price of electricity, a national FIT, mandatary green power option (MGPO), and a national RPS.

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