U.S. Consumed Record Amount of Renewable Energy in 2020
Including biofuels, biomass energy accounts for nearly 40 percent of nation’s renewables
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 British thermal units (Btu), or 12 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Renewable energy was the only source of U.S. energy consumption that increased in 2020 from 2019; fossil fuel and nuclear consumption declined. The EIA’s U.S. renewable energy consumption by source and sector chart shows how much renewable energy by source each sector consumes.
Wind energy, or electricity generated by wind-powered turbines, is almost exclusively consumed in the electric power sector. Wind energy accounted for about 26 percent of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. In 2020, U.S. wind energy consumption grew 14 percent from 2019.
Hydroelectric power, or electricity generated by water-powered turbines, is almost exclusively consumed in the electric power sector. It accounted for about 22 percent of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. U.S. hydropower consumption has remained relatively flat since the 1970s, but it fluctuates with seasonal rainfall and drought conditions.
Wood and waste energy, including wood, wood pellets, and biomass waste from landfills, accounted for about 22 percent of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. Industrial, commercial, and electric power facilities use wood and waste as a fuel to generate electricity, produce heat, and manufacture goods.
Biofuels, including ethanol, biodiesel, and other renewable fuels, accounted for about 17 percent of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. U.S. biofuel consumption fell 11 percent from 2019 as overall transportation sector energy use declined in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially passenger vehicle use, which represents the lion’s share of U.S. ethanol consumption.
Solar energy accounted for about 11 percent of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, including rooftop panels, and solar thermal power plants use sunlight to generate electricity. Some residential and commercial buildings use solar heating systems to heat water and the building. Overall, 2020 U.S. solar consumption increased 22 percent from 2019.