Renewable energy from wind and water had a big year in 2015. The wind industry continues to grow the American clean energy economy one megawatt at a time, and this past year, the price of wind energy reached an all-time low. Similarly, hydropower made strides with its HydroNEXT initiative to lower cost, improve performance, and promote environmental stewardship of hydropower development. As for marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) energy? We’re entering a new frontier, spearheaded by next-generation technologies. As the year comes to a close, we celebrate the milestones of renewable electricity generation in wind and water power with a list of some of our largest accomplishments.
In March, the Energy Department released this landmark report that lays out the economic, social, and environmental benefits of a scenario in which wind energy produces 10% of the nation’s electricity in 2020, 20% in 2030, and 35% in 2050.
This first-ever report quantifies the current size, scope, and variability of our nation’s hydropower supplies. Hydropower currently provides approximately seven percent of the U.S. electricity supply—enough electricity to power more than 20 million homes.
This report shows how the United States can unlock the vast potential for wind energy deployment in all 50 states—made possible through the next-generation of larger wind turbines.
The first third-party-validated, grid-tied wave energy device in North American waters started feeding renewable electricity to Marine Corps Base Hawaii this year. This one-of-a-kind, wave energy device is a major milestone for the emerging American MHK industry.
An example of the next generation of hydropower, Natel Energy, Inc., is using an existing, previously unpowered irrigation canal to generate reliable, renewable energy. The electricity is being purchased by Apple Inc. to lower its carbon footprint.
A first-of-its-kind, in-depth study of wildlife distribution and movements along the nation’s Eastern Seaboard, this study helps improve our understanding of how birds and aquatic animals interact with their marine environment, promoting more sustainable offshore wind development.
This competition aims to develop more efficient wave energy converters that will double the energy captured from ocean waves, ultimately reducing the cost of wave energy and making it more competitive with traditional energy solutions.
This year, we came one step closer to harnessing the vast potential of wind energy available offshore. The AXYS WindSentinel buoy, one of two owned by the Energy Department, was deployed off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. The buoy characterizes the wind speeds at various altitudes in an effort to estimate the power production for potential future offshore wind deployments.
The Energy Department, U.S. Department of the Interior, and U.S. Department of the Army for Civil Works extended their partnership and commitment to advance low-impact, low-cost hydropower technologies for an additional five years.
A hydrokinetic river project is providing power to a remote Alaskan village. Connecting to the small community grid and decreasing the use of diesel fuel will help lower electricity costs for consumers, since all fuel must either be shipped or flown in to this rural village.