The American renewable energy sector shone brightly in 2020, blowing away previous records for new installed capacity, according to Bloomberg NEF and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, which released their Sustainable Energy in America Factbook on Thursday. U.S. wind energy capacity increased last year by 17 gigawatts, a whopping 85% more than was added in 2019, and solar energy capacity increased by more than 16 gigawatts — also a record. All told, the combined new 33.6 gigawatts of new renewable energy was more than 50% higher than the previous record set in 2016. Renewables “had a pretty amazing year,” Ethan Zindler of BNEF told reporters.
Methane gas remained the largest source of American power generation, though its growth from 2019-2020 was slower than its growth from 2018-2019. Overall, American energy use dropped 7.8%—the biggest drop in at least 30 years, because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Coal continued to fall to its lowest share of the U.S. power mix since World War II. The renewable sector’s strong performance detailed in the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook is consistent with a report from the International Energy Agency released last November. (Earther, E&E $, Greentech Media, CBS, Utility Dive, Roll Call, The Hill, PV Tech)