President Barack Obama has been claiming that the United States has “doubled our use of renewable energy.” Not true. Wind and solar have doubled, but total renewable energy consumption is up by about one quarter from 2008 to 2011. Plus, since wind and solar started at such a low level, a doubling may not be as impressive to voters as it sounds.

The largest category of renewable energy is biomass, such as ethanol that is blended in gasoline. And the second-biggest category is hydropower — electricity generated from dams. Hydro was 35 percent of all renewable energy in 2008 and 2011, and biomass dipped a bit to 49 percent for last year.

Obama has made the claim in his speech at the Democratic National Convention and at several recent campaign stops.

But it’s simply not the case. All renewable energy accounted for 9 percent of the nation’s energy consumption in 2011, up from 7 percent in 2008. Measured in units of energy, BTUs, the consumption went up by about 26 percent and production went up by about 27 percent.

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