Renewable energy industry sets highs and lows

Nov. 21, 2002 — Shipments of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules expanded 11 percent to nearly 98,000 peak kilowatts in 2001, according to information released recently by the Energy Information Administration in the report, “Renewable Energy Annual 2001.”

An 80-percent surge in domestic shipments to a record 36,310 peak kilowatts led this growth, which was tempered by the first decrease in PV exports in more than a decade. Shipments of solar thermal collectors grew 34 percent to more than 11 million square feet.

While solar shipments have increased, total renewable energy consumption dropped to 5.668 Quadrillion Btu, the lowest level in over 12 years. This was primarily due to a 23-percent drop in hydroelectric power generation caused by below normal levels of precipitation in the Pacific Northwest.

As a result, renewable energy’s share of U.S. energy consumption declined modestly to under 6 percent in 2001 and biomass overtook hydroelectric power as the most important source of renewable energy for the first time since 1992.

Other highlights from Renewable Energy Annual 2001 include:

o Wind electric power plant net summer capacity expanded by over 70 percent to 4,062 megawatts in 2001.

o Biomass energy consumption decreased 3 percent to 2.854 Quadrillion Btu mainly in the residential and industrial sectors.

o Ethanol consumption by the transportation sector expanded 6 percent.

o Five states, Washington, California, Oregon, New York, and Idaho, provided 62 percent of total renewable net electric generation, which stood at 356 billion kilowatthours in 2000 (the latest year for which state data is available).

“Renewable Energy Annual 2001” can be viewed and downloaded from EIA’s website at:

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