Clean energy use is at its highest level since the Depression


A building boom in solar and wind farms as well as the increasing use of biofuels in vehicles pushed renewable energy to nearly 10% of overall U.S. consumption last year, according to the Energy Information Administration. That’s the highest share since the 1930s, when wood burning stoves and wood used for industrial purposes was popular.

Yes, the government considers burning wood to be renewable energy.

Most people define clean energy as coming from carbon-free sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectric dams and generating electricity. But the EIA has a broader definition that includes energy generated from biomass and biofuels. That means ethanol used to fill up certain cars and wood pellets used to power industrial plants are counted as renewable energy. Oddly, wood for heating homes in rural areas is also counted.

Storm Eases Over WindfarmsA rainbow forms behind giant windmills near rain-soaked Interstate 10 near Palm Springs, Calif.David McNew—Getty Images


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