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Most of the energy used in the U.S. in 2019 came from renewable sources such as wind and sun

Renewable energy sources were responsible for most of the power consumption in the U.S. in 2019, the first time since 1885 that coal was not the country’s major energy source

  • A new report from the U.S. government found that renewable energy overtook coal in 2019
  • It was the first year since before 1885 that coal was not the main source of energy
  • Coal consumption in the country fell to its lowest point since 1964

Most of the energy consumed in the U.S. in 2019 came from renewable sources such as wind turbines, hydropower plants and solar panels, which displaced coal as the country’s primary energy source.

According to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2019 was the first year since before 1885, when coal was not the country’s major energy source.

Coal-derived energy use in the United States has fallen by nearly half since its peak in 2008, and annual use fell by 15% between 2018 and 2019, to its lowest point since 1964.

For the first time since before 1885, coal was moved as the country's main energy source, overtaken by renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and hydropower

For the first time since before 1885, coal was moved as the country’s main energy source, overtaken by renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and hydropower

In total, renewable energy consumption accounted for 11.5 billion British thermal units in 2019, while coal accounted for 11.3 billion, the report found.

The most widely used source of renewable energy came from wind turbines, which passed hydropower plants as the country’s main renewable energy source.

The biggest source of coal declines came from the electricity grid, which in 2019 accounted for 90% of all the country’s coal consumption, or just over 10 billion British thermal units.

By comparison, just over six quadrillion British thermal units of renewable energy went to the country’s power grid, accounting for 56% of the total renewable energy used for the year.

The change is due to the fact that more cities across the country are investing in alternative energy projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the negative effects of climate change.

Coal use in 2019 fell to its lowest point in the U.S. since 1964, yielding just under half of the country's total energy

Coal use in 2019 fell to its lowest point in the U.S. since 1964, yielding just under half of the country's total energy

Coal use in 2019 fell to its lowest point in the U.S. since 1964, yielding just under half of the country’s total energy

Wind energy and hydropower were the two largest sources of renewable energy in all sectors

Wind energy and hydropower were the two largest sources of renewable energy in all sectors

Wind energy and hydropower were the two largest sources of renewable energy in all sectors

Coal continues to be the country's largest energy supplier of power grids, accounting for 90% of all coal used in the country, but a number of major cities across the country have begun the transition to renewable energy sources, including Houston and Las Vegas

Coal continues to be the country's largest energy supplier of power grids, accounting for 90% of all coal used in the country, but a number of major cities across the country have begun the transition to renewable energy sources, including Houston and Las Vegas

Coal continues to be the country’s largest energy supplier of power grids, accounting for 90% of all coal used in the country, but a number of major cities across the country have begun the transition to renewable energy sources, including Houston and Las Vegas

Earlier this year, Houston unveiled a plan to provide 100% of the city’s electricity with solar energy for the next seven years.

Las Vegas recently announced a similar project that will build a $ 1 billion solar power plant on 7,100 acres of public land outside the city.

The project will generate enough energy to power 260,000 homes.

As of 2020, the state of California will also require each new home to include solar panels to at least partially offset the amount of energy used by each.

WHAT IS SOLAR ENERGY?

Solar panels convert energy from the sun into electrical energy (stock image)

Solar panels convert energy from the sun into electrical energy (stock image)

Solar panels convert energy from the sun into electrical energy (stock image)

Solar energy is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity.

There are two methods for generating solar energy.

Photovoltaic solar energy – the kind of solar panel you may see built into a calculator – can convert light directly into electrical energy.

However, in concentrated solar power systems, mirrors or lenses are first used to capture and focus the sunlight that hits a wide area, creating heat that can be used to power a steam turbine and generate electricity.

The productivity of solar panels depends on the sunlight they receive in a particular location – a factor that depends on both latitude and climate.

Optimal locations for solar farms are the arid tropics and subtropics, with deserts located at such low latitudes and often cloudless, receiving around 10 hours of sunlight each day.

According to NASA, the eastern part of the Sahara – the Libyan desert – is the sunniest place on Earth.

Solar energy accounted for 1.7 percent of global electricity production in 2017 and is growing at 35 percent annually.

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