LIVERMORE, Calif. — The United States used more electricity from solar and wind energy sources in 2012 than in the previous year, according to the new annual analysis by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The rise in renewables is tied to prices — the underlying cost of solar panels and wind turbines has gone down — and also policies, such as government incentives or renewable energy targets in various states.

LLNL, which tracks U.S. consumption of energy resources, reported that wind power saw the biggest gains, reaching a total of 1.36 quadrillion Btu (quads) produced in 2012 compared to 1.17 quads in 2011. New wind farms continue to come on-line with bigger, more efficient wind turbines to generate electricity. Solar energy jumped from 0.158 quads in 2011 to 0.235 quads in 2012, spurred by declines in prices of photovoltaic (PV) panels, the report said.

Overall, the United States used an estimated 95.1 quads in 2012, which was 2.2 quads less than the previous year. The most energy was used for electricity generation, followed by energy used in the transportation, industrial, and residential sectors. Last year, energy use in the residential, commercial, and transportation sectors decreased while industrial energy use increased slightly.

See LLNL’s 2012 energy flow chart for details.

Publication date: 8/19/2013

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