Are Obama’s claims that he has doubled the use of renewable energy true?

NRG Expert, the energy market research company, reviews their energy database in order to ascertain whether claims made by Obama during his presidential campaign are realistic.

Obama Renewable Energy Contribution

OBAMA states in his Obama-Biden Plan that he wants to “Ensure 10 percent of Our Electricity Comes from Renewable Sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.” [1]. NRG Expert’s energy database reveals that this would require around 104,000MW to come from renewable sources in 2012.  Then even if total energy consumption stayed flat this would be at least 460,000MW by 2025.[2]

NRG Expert Energy Database

Max Krangle, Managing Director of NRG Expert reveals that renewable energy generation capacity has indeed increased by 16.25% to 177,500 MW. (2009-2012)

To compile this number, NRG Expert added up the annual capacity of pumped storage, conventional hydro, wind, solar thermal, solar PV, biomass, MSW and other waste, geothermal and ocean/tidal capacity.

Obama Double Renewable Energy Generation

Obama, the president likes to say he’s “doubled” … the generation of renewable energy” [3]. This may be true for certain types of renewable energy but NRG Expert reveals this is not the case for all types of renewable energy.

When reviewing the energy database, NRG Expert reveals that wind energy and solar PV generation capacity have not hit their target of doubling. Strong growth has been experienced, but not as much as Obama hoped for.

  • Wind energy generation capacity has increased by 57%
  • Solar PV generation capacity has increased, by 48%

Meanwhile biomass and geothermal growth has been slower.

  • Biomass generation capacity has increased by a mere 7%
  • Geothermal generation capacity also increased by just 7%

As with all energy data, it is not always easy to interpret the numbers. While Obama talks about ‘generation capacity’, this refers to the installed generator capacity. This however, doesn’t mean the plant is operating at full capacity and hitting this number, in fact renewable sources of energy generally only output about 30% of their installed capacity.. NRG Expert therefore also reviewed the net generation numbers. This is the actual energy produced, rather than its potential.

If you look at the generation numbers, then NRG Expert’ energy database reveals that solar, tide, and wave net generation increased by an impressive 264% [4]. Effectively this means that the amount of electricity being generated by these renewable energy sources has indeed, seen a huge increase. But solar, tide and wave only produce a small amount of the total renewable energy annual generation.

As always it is down to which numbers are considered. Even though aspects of Obama’s doubling campaign are true, success has been focused on a small number of renewable energy sources for example PV solar and wind.  The vast majority of renewable energy sources have not yet doubled.


For more energy data and information visit:

>> NRG Expert Global Almanac & Energy Database

>> Electricity Transmission and Distribution – Americas Regional Database

>> Power Generator Database and Energy Efficiency Market Intelligence Report


Or contact:

Edgar van der Meer
NRG Expert
+1 (416) 840-5847
+44 (0)20 8432 3059


Background information

NRG Expert is a London and Toronto based energy intelligence and market research publisher. NRG Expert provides up to date energy data, information and analysis on worldwide energy markets, including electricity, natural gas, coal, nuclear, renewable energy, water and waste, and all elements of energy infrastructure.


Source: [1] Obama-Biden Plan, [2] NRG Expert Energy Database – 25% of 2012 Energy  Consumption Figure,  [3]. MSNBC Oct 12,  [4] Net Annual Generation by Fuel Type Billion (kWh) 


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