How it works /


Renewable energy comes from sources that are not depleted when used. These resources include geothermal, solar, wind, water, and biomass. All are growing sources of environmentally sustainable energy to meet the country’s electricity needs. Explore production data.

Geothermal energy

Geothermal energy comes from the earth’s heat, which is captured as steam or hot water and converted into energy. Most geothermal resources are found along the boundaries of tectonic plates and can result in volcanoes, hot springs, or geysers. The U.S. is the largest producer of geothermal energy, and California produces more than any other state.

Many sites for potential geothermal development are on federal land. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has the authority to manage geothermal leasing on 240 million acres of public land. Advances in extraction methods and technology could result in new sources of geothermal energy.

See where geothermal energy production happens.

Solar energy

Solar energy can be generated in two ways:

  1. by converting solar radiation into heat and electricity using photovoltaic panels
  2. by using the sun’s radiation to heat a fluid and produce steam for a power generator

The solar industry has experienced rapid growth in the past decade due to government programs such as tax credits and state renewable portfolio standards, increased public awareness of its environmental benefits, and decreasing technology costs. Manufacturing costs for solar panels have decreased, and private industry has created better batteries to store solar energy. In the southwestern United States, potential solar energy production is among the highest in the world.

See areas of the U.S. with solar energy potential.

Wind power

Wind power takes advantage of daily wind cycles to rotate wind turbines, which can be clustered together on wind farms.

Much of the nation’s federal wind power is generated offshore. While wind speeds off the Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico are lower than in the Pacific, the presence of shallower waters in the Atlantic makes developing wind projects there more affordable in the short term.

See a map of current wind power capacity, potential onshore power, and potential offshore power.

Hydroelectric energy

Hydroelectric energy is the country’s oldest and largest source of renewable energy. Hydroelectric technologies capture the power of flowing water and turn it into electricity. The most common type of hydroelectric power plants are dams that store water in reservoirs. Water released from the reservoir spins a turbine, which in turn activates a generator to produce electricity.

The Bureau of Reclamation, responsible for managing, developing, and protecting water sources is the second largest producer of hydroelectric power. The Bureau's 53 power plants bring water to more than 31 million people. Today, it's the largest wholesaler of water in the country.

We don’t present hydroelectric data on this site because the Office of Natural Resources Revenue does not have a role in managing revenue and disbursements for hydroelectric projects.


Biomass is an organic renewable energy source that includes materials such as algae, wood chips, and agriculture residue. These materials contain stored energy from the sun created by photosynthesis; burning them releases chemical energy. Biomass-fired power plants produce electricity by burning biomass to heat water to a high temperature under pressure. The result is steam that powers turbines and connects to generators.

We don’t present biomass data on this site because the Office of Natural Resources Revenue does not have a role in managing revenue and disbursements for biomass projects.