A few report highlights:
- 60% of new U.S. generating capacity in first three-quarters 2015 is from renewables
- Wind is largest source of new capacity, beating out natural gas
- New renewable capacity is 1,460 times greater than that from coal
- Non-hydro renewable capacity now exceeds conventional hydropower
In another confirmation of where the nation’s energy future is headed, renewable sources – wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and hydropower – accounted for more than 60% (60.20% actually) of the 7,276 MW of new electrical generation placed in service in the United States during the first nine months of 2015.
According to the recently-released “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, 26 new “units” of wind accounted for 2,966 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity – or more than forty percent (40.76%) of all new capacity year-to-date. Among renewable sources, solar followed with 1,137 MW (142 units), biomass with 205 MW (16 units), geothermal steam with 45 MW (1 unit), and hydropower with 27 MW (18 units). Thirty-four units of natural gas contributed 2,884 MW.
FERC reported no new capacity for the year-to-date from nuclear power and just 9 MW from six units of oil and 3 MW from one unit of coal. Thus, new capacity from renewable energy sources during the first three-quarters of 2015 is 1,460 times greater than that from coal while new capacity from wind alone exceeds that from natural gas.
For just the month of September, wind (448 MW) again dominated, with 54.83% of new capacity followed by natural gas (346 MW), and solar (20 MW).
Renewable energy sources now account for 17.40% of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: water – 8.59%, wind – 5.91%, biomass – 1.43%, solar – 1.13%, and geothermal steam – 0.34% (for comparison, renewables were 16.35% of capacity in September 2014 and 15.68% in September 2013). The share of total installed capacity from solar alone has more than doubled over the past two years (1.13% vs. 0.54%). Total installed capacity from non-hydro renewables (8.81%) now exceeds that from conventional hydropower (8.59%).
Renewable electrical capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.19%) and oil (3.87%) combined. In fact, the installed capacity of wind power alone has now surpassed that of oil. On the other hand, generating capacity from coal has declined from 28.94% in September 2013 to 26.61% today. *
“With Congress and numerous states now questioning the ability of renewable energy sources to meet targets called for in the Administration’s new Clean Power Plan (CPP), the explosive growth of wind, solar, biomass, hydropower, and geothermal in recent years confirms that it can be done,” noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “In fact, the latest FERC data suggest that the CPP’s goals are unduly modest and renewables will handily surpass them.”
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its most recent 6-page “Energy Infrastructure Update,” with data through September 30, 2015. See the tables titled “New Generation In-Service (New Build and Expansion)” and “Total Installed Operating Generating Capacity” at: http://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/2015/sep-infrastructure.pdf .
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