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The Changing Energy Landscape in the USA

05 Apr 15:00 by Steve Walia

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A new report has shown that a significant drop in US coal production led to a broader 4pc drop in America's energy production last year. This is the first annual drop in energy production in America since 2009, according to figures released from the US Energy Information Administration.

Fossil fuel production plummeted by 7pc, with coal falling by 18pc - its lowest level since 1978. At the same time, net imports grew by 6pc within the same period.

The EIA have attributed the changing picture of America's energy scene to the relatively cheap prices of natural gas, flat electricity demand and an increase in renewable energy production, which grew by 7pc in 2016.

Nearly half of the increase was from wind energy, and new solar capacity accounted for nearly 25pc of production. Both of the green energy sources saw substantial additions to capacity in both 2015 and 2016. A further 25pc of the increase in renewable generated production was from hydroelectricity. 

Renewable energy grew faster than other energy sources due to falls in capital costs combined with increased levels of market federation. A further growth factor was the support of policies at the federal and state level.

The sector is also forging ahead when it comes to US job creation. In 2016, one in fifty new jobs came from the solar energy sector, with growth outpacing the economy overall by a factor of 17, according to the figures.

This means that 2pc of all new jobs went to workers in the solar energy industry, totalling 260,077 positions. Activity in the sector has grown by nearly 300pc since the first solar jobs census looking at solar employment was launched in 2010 and has since risen by at least 20pc every year since 2013.