In 2020, consumption of renewable energy in the United States grew for the fifth year in a row, reaching a record high of 11.6 quadrillion Btu, or 12% of total US energy consumption, according to figures from the Energy Information Administration. Renewable energy was the only source of US energy consumption that increased in 2020 from 2019; fossil fuel and nuclear consumption declined.
EIA’s calculation is based on conversion to heat energy units using fossil fuel equivalence to arrive at a figure for primary energy consumption of non-combusting renewables (wind, hydro, solar, and geothermal).
Wind derived energy is almost exclusively consumed in the electric power sector. It accounted for about 26% of US renewable energy consumption in 2020. Wind overtook hydropower to become the single most-consumed source of renewable energy on an annual basis. In 2020, US wind energy consumption grew 14% from 2019.
Hydroelectric power is also consumed almost exclusively in the electric power sector. It accounted for about 22% of US renewable energy consumption in 2020. Hydropower consumption has remained relatively flat since the 1970s, but it fluctuates with seasonal rainfall and drought conditions.
Wood and waste energy, including biomass waste from landfills, accounted for about 22% of US renewable energy consumption in 2020, while biofuels, including fuel ethanol, biodiesel, and other renewable fuels, accounted for about 17%. Biofuel consumption fell 11 % from 2019 as overall transportation sector energy use declined during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Solar energy accounted for about 11% of renewable energy consumption, while overall solar consumption increased 22% from 2019.