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The United States Consumed a Record Amount of Renewable Energy in 2020

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In 2020, consumption of renewable energy in the United States grew for the fifth year in a row, reaching a record high of 11.6 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), or 12% of total U.S. energy consumption. Renewable energy was the only source of U.S. energy consumption that increased in 2020 from 2019; fossil fuel and nuclear consumption declined. Our U.S. renewable energy consumption by source and sector chart shows how much renewable energy by source each sector consumes.

We convert sources of energy to common units of heat, called British thermal units (Btu), to compare different types of energy that are usually measured in units that are not directly comparable, such as gallons of biofuels compared with kilowatthours of wind energy.

We use a fossil fuel equivalence to calculate primary energy consumption of noncombustible renewables (wind, hydro, solar, and geothermal), which are not burned to generate electricity and therefore do not have an inherent Btu conversion rate. In this approach, we convert the noncombustible renewables from kilowatthours to Btu using the annual weighted-average Btu conversion rate for all fossil fuels burned to generate electricity in the United States during that year to estimate the amount of fossil energy replaced by these renewable sources.

We use the fossil fuel equivalency approach to report noncombustible renewables’ contribution to total primary energy, in part, because the resulting shares of primary energy are closer to the shares of generated electricity. This calculation also represents the energy that would have been consumed if the electricity from renewable sources had instead been generated by a mix of fossil fuels.


Wind energy, or electricity generated by wind-powered turbines, is almost exclusively consumed in the electric power sector. Wind energy accounted for about 26% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. Wind surpassed hydroelectricity in 2019 to become the single most-consumed source of renewable energy on an annual basis. In 2020, U.S. wind energy consumption grew 14% from 2019.

Hydroelectric power, or electricity generated by water-powered turbines, is almost exclusively consumed in the electric power sector. It accounted for about 22% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. U.S. hydropower consumption has remained relatively flat since the 1970s, but it fluctuates with seasonal rainfall and drought conditions.

Wood and waste energy, including wood, wood pellets, and biomass waste from landfills, accounted for about 22% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. Industrial, commercial, and electric power facilities use wood and waste as a fuel to generate electricity, produce heat, and manufacture goods.

Biofuels, including fuel ethanol, biodiesel, and other renewable fuels, accounted for about 17% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. U.S. biofuel consumption fell 11% from 2019 as overall transportation sector energy use declined in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Solar energy accounted for about 11% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, including rooftop panels, and solar thermal power plants use sunlight to generate electricity. Some residential and commercial buildings use solar heating systems to heat water and the building. Overall, 2020 U.S. solar consumption increased 22% from 2019.

Principal contributor: Mickey Francis

Source:U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review. Note: Click for full U.S. renewable energy chart.

Courtesy of Today in Energy — U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/06/16/the-united-states-consumed-a-record-amount-of-renewable-energy-in-2020/

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The True War On Christmas

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A new front has opened in the War On Christmas: extreme heat and drought fueled by climate change. The record-shattering heatwave that baked the Pacific Northwest last month took a potentially devastating toll on Christmas tree farms in the region. “The second day of the heat, it was 116. I came in the driveway that night and seen the trees were basically cooking. Burnt down to nothing,” Jacob Hemphill, a tree farmer in Oregon City told Reuters. He estimates he lost over $100,000 worth of trees. The heat, combined with the brutal drought, has caused unprecedented damage to myriad crops in the region.

Sources: ReutersVice News; Climate Signals background: June 2021 PNW heatwaveDrought

This is a quick news brief from Nexus Media.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/24/the-true-war-on-christmas/

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Sandy Munro Experiences Tesla’s FSD Beta V9 — “I’m pretty happy with what I see in the way of progress here.”

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YouTuber DirtyTesla, aka Chris, recently picked up Sandy Munro and took him for a ride to show Munro Tesla FSD version 9, which was released earlier this month. To start, though, the video below is a behind-the-scenes look at Sandy Munro Live — Chris got to have a tour of Sandy’s work and the recording area where Sandy recently compared a teardown of a Tesla Model Y with a Ford Mustang Mach-E. Sandy Munro’s take on Tesla FSD version 9 is further down.

Behind The Scenes

Sandy quickly gave him a tour of the studio and showed him the second Model 3 he tore down. Sandy noted that compared to it, the Model Y was definitely an improvement. On a table was a side-by-side comparison of Tesla’s Hardware 3 and Hardware 2.5 chips for the Model 3 and the Model Y. Sandy explained that the Model Y has the new Tesla chips (HW3) on them while the Model 3 has Nvidia chips on them (HW2.5). The Model Y has two chips while the Model 3 has 3.

Sandy thinks the chip in the Plaid Model S will be different again. “I think the one that’s going to be in the Plaid is going to look different than that. I have a suspicion, anyway.”

He moved over to the Model Y frame and pointed out that this was made from a giant chunk where before Tesla would use two pieces. He explained that this vehicle would give the owner a ride that was more stable and didn’t have noise, vibration, or harshness.

Sandy Munro’s Thoughts On FSD Beta V9

Dirty Tesla didn’t show the drive itself and instead asked Sandy what he thought afterward. (Sandy’s video of the drive is further down.)

“This is my second time in a beta vehicle, but this is really, really nice. I was really impressed. It did everything that the beta 7 did. We never tried, like, 160-degree turns in the beta 7 unit that I was in before. This one handled beautifully.

“No issues, no complaints, no nothing. So I’m pretty happy with what I see in the way of progress here. I’ve been a big advocate of self-driving because, quite frankly, I think this is going to save more lives than seatbelts. I really do. This is the right way to go. If the car can take over in a bad situation most people aren’t really prepared for, how can we possibly go wrong? So I’m very excited about it.”

Recap Of The Drive

Dirty Tesla shared a super quick recap of the drive with Munro and noted that it was a lot of fun. “We did a pretty simple drive. We basically went into a neighborhood and came back.”

He noted that Sandy will have his experience on his channel. “The drive was pretty much flawless. Zero disengagements. I had to intervene, I think, one time. I just hit the accelerator because it wasn’t moving through a blinking yellow, but it did very well. We had some sharp left and right turns. Everybody there was incredibly nice, so thank you again to everyone there who was part of the filming and making of the video. They showed me around the whole shop — a lot of fun.”

The Drive From Sandy’s Perspective

The first thing Sandy mentioned once they were inside Chris’s Dirty Tesla was that the screen looked different — it was not like his Model 3’s screen. Sandy, upon finding out that Chris’s Tesla was a Model Y, said:

“This is the only electric vehicle I’ve ever recommended. Period. I based all of that on the fact that it’s got the castings in the back and I knew that this is going to be a much more positive kind of ride than anything you’re going to get. And the Model 3 is good — not bad. But this is the one that I said, ‘You know what? If you’re going to buy an electric car, I’d try and buy this one.’”

The Drive

Once they picked their destinations, Chris explained that it wasn’t ready for parking lots yet, and even Tesla hasn’t advertised that it was ready for parking lots. The vehicle navigated out of the lot and onto the street, stopping at a red light. Sandy asked Chris what has been the most exciting part of being a beta tester for Tesla’s FSD.

“The Beta — it’s just nice to see the progress, and I know you said earlier that I’m one of the lucky few. I’m rooting for it to come to everybody, I really am. I want it to get pushed out, but I want it to be safe. Just seeing the progress and, you know, there’s still a lot to be done. It does make mistakes pretty often.

“I’m sure you’ll see a few in this video, but the progress has been noticeable. I mean, it is getting better. There’s no doubt. I actually track the interventions per mile that I get and they have been going down, especially with this version.”

Sandy noted that the car did move faster than normal speed and Chris explained that he set that up in the settings — it goes 10 mph over. He also pointed out that driving through neighborhoods is more of a challenge for FSD compared to the highway.

“The real big trick here is driving in cramped quarters. So this has done really well I think.”

The next thing Sandy wanted to know is if Chris had experienced anything that was shocking or scary.

“I wouldn’t put it that way, but it definitely makes mistakes, and it is a good idea — I mean, Tesla tells you in the release notes that you always have to pay attention. Keep your hands on the wheel, of course. Sometimes, like that lane change we had back then without a turn signal, it’ll kind of make quick moves like that.

“It’s a lot freer than the public build of Autopilot that’s kind of stuck in its lane. If it thinks it needs to, you know, move on the center line to get out of a bicyclist’s way, it’ll do it. And you have to kind of be prepared for when it does that when it’s not supposed to. So, I wouldn’t say anything has scared me, but yeah, there’s definitely times I take over because it’s getting too close to a wall or maybe too close to some barrels or something like that. But I’ve never been scared by it.

You can watch both videos here and here.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/24/sandy-munro-experiences-teslas-fsd-beta-v9-im-pretty-happy-with-what-i-see-in-the-way-of-progress-here/

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30 Million Solar Homes Initiative Promises 1.77 Million Jobs

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A coalition composed of the Institute For Local Self-Reliance, Solar United Neighbors Action, the Initiative For Energy Justice, and Solar United Neighbors has created a white paper urging the federal government to create policy and funding initiatives that would support the addition of rooftop solar to 30 million US homes.

The proposal claims the 30 Million Solar plan would create 1.77 million new jobs and save $69 billion in energy costs in the first 6 years. Thereafter, it would reduce the nation’s energy bills by $30 billion a year. In addition, the amount of carbon dioxide kept out of American skies would be equivalent to shuttering 48 coal-fired generating plants for an entire year or taking 42 million conventional gasoline and diesel powered vehicles off the road. 

That last part gets a Wow! from us here at CleanTechnica. Imagine how long it is going to take to get 42 million cars off the road at the current rate of EV adoption.

Policy Help & Financial Assistance

A big part of the 30 Million Solar initiative is convincing Congress to expand and extend the federal investment tax credits available for solar projects, many of which are scheduled to shrink in the near future before expiring altogether. The plan calls for bumping those credits back up to 30% and extending them for an additional 10 years. The critical elements include:

  • Restoration, extension, and democratization of the Investment Tax Credit to provide a direct pay option for distributed solar projects and a 30% credit.
  • Substantially increased investment in energy assistance and weatherization programs to permanently reduce energy burdens, especially with rooftop and community solar.
  • New financing programs, including a national green bank and Clean Energy Victory Bonds.
  • Substantial expansion of federal matching grants and loan guarantees for schools, rural homes and businesses, tribal communities, and equitable community solar projects.
  • Loan loss reserves, especially to support clean energy portfolios within community development financial institutions.
  • Virtual permitting, a national solar marketplace, rules supporting net metering and community solar requirements, and other market-boosting policies.
  • Support for solar workers and small business owners from underrepresented groups.
  • Measures to make sure federal programs and agencies are accountable to communities.

The Executive Summary of the plan reads as follows:

“The 30 Million Solar Homes policies leverage federal power to spark investment that can serve more than 30 million households with rooftop or community solar over the next five years. This decentralized approach to reaching one in four households with solar maximizes and disperses the economic benefits of expanding clean energy in the fight against climate change, directly benefiting as many Americans as possible.

“More than three quarters of total federal investment benefits marginalized communities, including low and moderate income communities, environmental justice communities, and solar deserts. Over 300 advocacy organizations, solar businesses, and faith communities have signed on in support of 30 Million Solar Homes.”

Two Thirds Of Benefits Will Flow To Underserved Communities

As of the end of the first quarter of this year, the U.S. solar industry had installed 102.8 GW of capacity, enough to power roughly 18.6 million homes. Adding rooftop solar to 30 million homes would equate to 151 GW in new solar capacity — 50% more than all the solar capacity currently in place.

Along with job creation, installing solar on 30 million homes would lead to 100 GW of the 151 GW of proposed capacity being installed in marginalized communities, helping to improve access equity to solar and easing the historic economic imbalance of the resource. The benefits of local solar are particularly important for these communities as many have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and face a slow economic recovery. Specific proposals that would benefit underserved communities include:

  • A bonus 10% tax credit for commercial projects that provide Davis-Bacon prevailing wages and benefits.
  • A 10% bonus credits to commercial projects primarily serving marginalized communities, or that provide resilience by combining solar and energy storage.
  • A 10% bonus credits to residential projects also serving marginalized communities or providing resilience.
  • Modifications to prioritize projects that provide a direct financial benefit to residents through electricity bill credits and other benefits.

The proposal also calls for:

  • DOE loan guarantees for equitable community solar projects.
  • Reauthorizing clean energy block grants for state, tribal, territorial, and local governments.
  • Establishing solar plus storage grants for resiliency in marginalized communities.
  • Instituting solar grants for schools to reinvest energy savings into operations.
  • Establishing grants for developing residential and community solar in marginalized communities.

Speeding Up Solar Permitting

The so-called soft costs associated with rooftop solar can add a third to the cost of a system. The Solar Automated Permit Processing platform from the US Department of Energy hopes to speed up the permitting process and lower costs. It provides a standard portal for local governments to process permit applications that automatically checks codes to ensure safety while generating a standardized inspection checklist installers and inspectors can use to verify compliance in the field.

The DOE piloted the SolarAPP+ program in Tucson and Pima County in Arizona, and Menifee and Pleasant Valley in the California. “In Tucson, for example, SolarAPP+ reduced permitting reviews from approximately 20 business days to zero,” according to DOE.

“We have 3 million households today that have solar on their roofs, but the potential is so much greater,” DOE’s solar energy director told Reuters. “Having streamlined processes and an automated permitting platform that can make it faster, easier and cheaper for homeowners to go solar promises to really help expand the residential solar sector.”

Local governments and installers can now sign up to get started with the app or attend webinars listed on the DOE’s blog. It’s all part of the its Summer of Solar campaign aimed at lowering soft costs — design, siting, permitting, installation, and so forth — associated with rooftop solar power.

The Takeaway

The distinguishing feature of rooftop solar is it typically is not something done by traditional utility companies. They love solar because the cost of fuel is effectively zero. But they hate to see electricity democratized. There are a few progressive utility companies out there, but most of them take the position that, “It’s our electricity, dammit, and we alone will decide who gets it and how much you pay for it.” It’s a natural consequence of the monopoly model that has been the standard of the industry for over a century.

The 30 Million Solar plan would explode that status quo. Utility industry lobbyist are salivating over the prospect of driving a stake through the heart of this proposal.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/24/30-million-solar-homes-initiative-promises-1-77-million-jobs/

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From the Sublime to the Ludicrous

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By David Waterworth

Back in 2014 I took a Tesla Model S for a test drive. The salesperson sat beside me, he put it in Ludicrous mode and Autopilot.  I drove out to the motorway and he said: “Floor it!” Then, “Take your hands off the wheel.” As my body pressed back into the driver’s seat, I knew there was no way I could take my hands off the wheel. It was a back-to-the-future, out-of-body experience.

My wife and grandson were in the backseat. “Wow,” they said. “Do it again, grandad,” said Oscar. 

Unfortunately, I did not have the funds to buy a Tesla at that time. Six years later and I was able to make the stretch to a Model 3 SR+.

In the meantime I had purchased a lovely old Wolseley. Built by BMC in 1964, he was the poor man’s Rolls. Elegant wood — glowing burr walnut — and leather trim. And power brakes for safety. Soft, high-riding suspension for comfort. According to the brochure, the Australian 6 cylinder Blue Streak engine gives a “really vivacious performance.” Luxury for a reasonable price.

I used to joke that I could do 0–100 km/h in 4.7 weeks.

From old BMC Wolseley Mark II brochure.

Now I drive a Tesla. Tess is not as soft to drive as George T. Wolseley — I have to slow down for the speed bumps. But she is faster, safer, and has tech to the eyeballs. I have not lost my love of the old marques and still appreciate the engineering of the “old days,” but nothing can compare dragging of a motor bike at the traffic lights.

I don’t miss filling up with petrol, checking the oil, and waiting for the next thing to break — fan belt, radiator hose, tappet cover gasket.

The internal combustion engine has been a great asset to civilization — transport being only one of its many uses. Its time is now passing and we are able to go from traveling in the sublime luxury of six-cylinder car comfort to the ludicrous nature of Tesla.

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He owns 50 shares of Tesla.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/24/from-the-sublime-to-the-ludicrous/

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