Renewable Energy Surges, But Fossil Fuel Still Powers Most of Economy

Renewables are a fast-growing part of the energy that powers the United States, but a government report shows fossil fuels still provide energy for most of the economy.

The Energy Information Administration says petroleum, natural gas, and coal provided 81 percent of the energy for the world’s largest economy in 2016.

That is lowest rate of U.S. fossil fuel use in a century, and the change is partly due to a major fall in coal usage to generate electricity. In many cases, coal has been replaced by less-polluting natural gas or zero-emission technologies like solar and wind generation.

An earlier EIA report says renewable energy sources account for most of the new electric generating capacity, with perhaps 24 gigawatts added in the United States during 2016.

In the meantime, markets are pondering efforts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to limit output and boost prices. The oil price is down around 14 percent this year due to output from the United States, Nigeria, Libya and some other nations.