The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) just released the 2011 edition of their annual report on the state of the renewable energy industry. The report -- which is produced for the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy -- is a must-read for anyone with an interest in renewable energy. It contains more than 100 pages of charts, maps, and tables describing current trends in renewable energy. There is also an extensive glossary and list of references for anyone looking to do further research.
To whet your appetite, here are a few graphics that I found interesting:
This table details the growth of U.S. renewable electricity generation from 2000-2011, highlighting the double-digit growth of wind and solar generation. Do you notice how generation from hydropower bounces up and down? That variation has a lot to do with the amount of rainfall feeding our dams, and the Energy Information Administration has an excellent article on the subject.
This second graphic shows that renewables as a group form a national industry. From the concentration of solar generation in the Southwest to the dams in the Northwest, to biomass facilities in the South and wind farms in the upper Midwest, every region in the country has a stake in the renewable energy industry.
The Renewable Energy Data Book isn’t limited to a survey of U.S. renewables, and it includes this map (among others) describing the global renewable energy industry. In case you’re wondering, STEG stands for Solar Thermal Electric Generation, where energy from the sun is used to boil water and power steam turbines. It is often called Concentrating Solar Power, and this Energy 101 video provides a great introduction. Solar PV (photovoltaic) generation uses panels to convert sunlight directly into electricity.
The Data Book also contains information about alternative fuels, renewable energy investments and detailed explorations of each form of renewable generation. This is only a tiny sample of the information available in the Renewable Energy Data Book, so I encourage you to read the whole thing.