A criticism I often hear about renewables is that they only account for a fraction of the U.S. electricity system. This is usually mentioned with the fact that the government has invested outrageous amounts of money and federal subsidies to build a tiny fraction of the energy market with minimal ROI.
While this is “sort of” true with the "newer" renewable energies such as wind and solar power, It’s overlooking one important point. Conventional hydroelectric power, such as the Hoover Dam, is also renewable energy. Yes, it’s true that wind accounts for a little over 4% of U.S. electricity production (roughly one-tenth what coal provides), but when you combine that with hydroelectric and other sources such as solar you start closing in on about 15%.
Keep in mind that the U.S. has the second-biggest electricity system in the world! If wind power is 5%, that “small” piece of pie is a big slice! Just to put it in perspective, the approximately 60 gigawatts of wind power installed in the U.S. has more electricity-generation capacity than entire countries. And not the small ones… we’re talking Australia, Saudi Arabia, or Mexico. It's about half of what France or Brazil would need.
The point is this: yes, renewable energy is a “smaller” portion of the pie right now compared to the other energy options, but don’t be fooled. It’s still a very large and significant source of energy…. And it’s growing!