What is the role of renewable energy – renewable energy sources?
Until the mid-1800s, wood was the source of almost all energy needs for heating, cooking and lighting. From the late 1800s until today, fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – have been the main sources of energy. Hydropower and wood were the most widely used renewable energy sources until the 1990s. Since then, the amounts and percentage share in the total energy consumption from biofuels, geothermal energy, solar energy and wind energy have increased, and in 2019 the combined percentage share of these renewable energy sources was higher than the combined share of wood energy and hydropower. Consumption of biofuels, geothermal, solar and wind energy in the United States in 2019 was almost three times higher than in 2000. In 2019, renewable energy sources provided about 11.5 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) – 1 quadrillion is number 1 followed by 15 zeros – which is equal to 11.4% of total American energy consumption. The electricity sector accounted for about 56% of total U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2019, and about 17% of total U.S. electricity production was from renewable energy sources. Renewable energy sources can play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The use of renewable energy can reduce the use of fossil fuels, which are the largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that U.S. renewable energy consumption will continue to increase until 2050.