Solar and Wind Generation Growing in U.S.

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Purpose: To explain the growth of solar and wind generation in the U.S.

Highlights:

  • How does solar power work?

  • How does wind power work?

  • How do we store energy made during peak times for later use?


According to YaleEnvironment360, 10 states are getting at least 20% of their energy from solar and wind.

Iowa is receiving 37% of its electricity from wind and solar. The top five states utilizing renewable energy get the vast majority of their energy from wind power. Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and North Dakota, rely on wind power. California is the only state in the top 10 of renewable energy that primarily used solar energy.

How does solar energy work?

Solar power is the fastest growing utility source. In 2016, a study showed that 27.2 gigawatts of America’s energy was solar.

Solar power uses sunlight and converts it to electricity using photovoltaic (PV) or concentrated solar power. PV cells convert light into electric current. Each cell produces 1-2 watts of energy.

Concentrated solar power works with a series of mirrors and tracking systems. It narrows the expansive sunlight into a beam of intense light. That beam is used as a source of energy for a conventional steam generating plant.

Learn more about how solar power works here.

How does wind energy work?

Wind energy works by the wind turning blades on a rotor. The rotor spins a generator, creating electricity. In 2016, wind energy was responsible for 8% of the United States energy generation, with 81.3 gigawatts.



What is the future of renewable energy?

The future of renewable energy relies on giant batteries.

While solar and wind are environmentally friendly and growing, the sun goes down and wind doesn’t always blow. That’s where battery storage comes into play.

Battery storage will store the energy that solar and wind produce at peak times to be used during off-peak times. Battery storage provides on-demand energy, and makes renewable energy a more realistic possibility.

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