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America’s renewable electricity ticks up

All stripes of renewable energy increased between 2016 and last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Here is a handy card deck of what you need to know about America's different electricity sources. This is updated from our initial power mix rundown in July.

Why it matters: The recently updated EIA data, which is the federal government’s official breakdown of U.S. electricity, shows an increasingly diverse mix. That goes counter to warnings by Energy Secretary Rick Perry and other government officials that the grid is too reliant on one type of fuel.

By the numbers:

  • Solar went from 0.9% in EIA’s 2016 breakdown to 1.9% in 2017, with 0.6% of that being rooftop solar.
  • Wind’s share went from 5.6% to 6.3%.
  • Hydropower, a renewable energy that doesn’t get as much attention as wind or solar, ticked up from 6.5% to 7.5%.

To be sure: Regional mix of electricity can vary greatly, and even certain days can have more renewable energy or less. The importance of the EIA’s breakdown is that it captures the yearly average across the U.S., which shows changes over longer periods of time. For example, in 2008, EIA’s breakdown of electricity mix was much more heavily coal (48.2%) compared to today (30.1%.)

What’s next: My next Harder Line column — out Monday — will break down some complicated electricity terms. This is my next glossary installment, building off my inaugural glossary earlier this year on more general energy and climate terms. Stay tuned!

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