Renewable Energy

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Renewable energy comes from sources that are constantly replenished, like running water, the heat of the Earth, the Sun's light, or wind. Renewables account for around 10% of U.S. energy consumption and 15% of electricity production.


A wind turbine.

Renewable energy comes from sources that can be replenished on a human timescale, like biomass, hydropower, geothermal, wind, and solar power. Renewable energy technologies generally have fewer environmental and health impacts than non-renewables. Like all energy sources, each renewable energy technology has its own advantages and disadvantages.   Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

Latest News

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
October 12, 2016 The World Energy Council, a United Nations-accredited global energy consortium, released its 2016 World Energy Resources Report on October 12. Since its inception in 2010, the report has shown a global trend toward a more diversified global energy portfolio. The report provides a...
IES Energy glyph
September 14, 2016 Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell approved Phase I of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) this September. DRECP is a coordinated effort between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the California Energy Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and...
Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
September 8, 2016 House and Senate conferees for the Energy Policy Modernization Act met this September to discuss the progress they had made on reconciling the House (H.R. 8) and Senate (S. 2012) versions of the bill. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R - AK), author of the Senate version of the bill and...
Map of U.S. Geothermal Power Capacity. Image Credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
#MapOfTheDay! Today the Critical Issues Program (@AGI_GeoIssues) shared a map of geothermal power generation capacity in each U.S. state from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (@NREL), which you can find at If you're interested in learning more about the cutting edge...
U.S. Capitol
July 12, 2016 Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a bill (S. 3169) that would authorize new basic energy research funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science programs by eliminating the long-standing wind production tax credit (PTC) that has helped to expand wind power...
Interactive map of renewable energy resources in Nevada
The Critical Issues Program #MapOfTheDay! Nevada's renewable energy resources all in one interactive map: 
Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
July 13, 2016 The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing to discuss the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act (H.R.2663), a bipartisan bill with 67 cosponsors that was introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) in 2015. If enacted, H.R.2663 would...
Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
July 11, 2016 The Solar Fuels Innovation Act (H.R.5638) and the Electricity Storage Innovation Act (H.R.5640) passed the House by voice vote this July. The bills, which require the Department of Energy (DOE) to carry out two new basic research initiatives, received bipartisan support. The two...
Atlantic waves
June 8, 2016 Inspired by recent milestones in domestic offshore wind energy and persistently low oil and gas prices, Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW 2016) included a panel on potential changes to U.S. offshore energy portfolios. The panel, moderated by E&ETV’s managing editor Monica Trauzzi,...
U.S. Capitol
March 16, 2016 The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) held a briefing on the state of geothermal energy on both national and global scales. The speakers were Sakari Oksanen of the International Renewable Energy Agency, Meseret Zemedkun of the...

Research Database Publications

Cover of fs2016-3067; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The renewable energy sector is rapidly expanding and diversifying the power supply of the country. Yet, as our Nation works to advance renewable energy and to conserve wildlife, some conflicts arise. To address these challenges, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is conducting innovative research...
Cover of ofr20161087; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Solar power represents an important and rapidly expanding component of the renewable energy portfolio of the United States (Lovich and Ennen, 2011; Hernandez and others, 2014). Understanding the impacts of renewable energy development on wildlife is a priority for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service...
Cover of B2179; Source: USGS
2003, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Fuel cells are important future sources of electrical power and could contribute to a reduction in the amount of petroleum imported by the United States. They are electrochemical devices similar to a battery and consist of a container, an anode, a cathode, catalysts, an intervening electrolyte, and...
A wind turbine.
2010, American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
Humans have harnessed wind energy throughout history for milling, pumping and transportation — in a way you could say it’s the “original” form of industrial energy. But only recently have we built massive, powerful turbines to convert that wind into electricity. As concerns about pollution, carbon...
AIPG logo
2009, American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG)
Biofuels, biomass, hydroelectric, solar, geothermal, and wind make up the largest renewable energy resource group in the world. These resources are renewable and sustainable, so a statement of current reserves is generally hard to estimate, with limiting factors such as water, land and the...
Cover image of factsheet; Image credit: SME
2010, Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration Inc. (SME)
An overview of all of the minerals and metals used to make solar panels.
Cover of FS2014-3077; Source: USGS
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Tellurium is one of the least common elements on Earth. Most rocks contain an average of about 3 parts per billion tellurium, making it rarer than the rare earth elements and eight times less abundant than gold. Grains of native tellurium appear in rocks as a brittle, silvery-white material, but...