WIND AND SOLAR PROVIDE 98%
OF ALL NEW ELECTRICAL GENERATING CAPACITY
IN JANUARY + FEBRUARY
RENEWABLES NOW PROVIDE MORE THAN ONE-FIFTH
OF NATION’S INSTALLED GENERATING CAPACITY
RENEWABLES ACCOUNT FOR ALMOST 70% OF PROPOSED
NET GENERATION ADDITIONS OVER NEXT THREE YEARS
Wind and solar accounted for more than 98% of all new U.S. electrical generation placed into service in the first two months of this year, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of data just released by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commissions (FERC).
FERC’s latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” (with summary statistics for January and February 2018) also reveals that the total installed capacity of renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) now provides over one-fifth (i.e., 20.39%) of total available U.S. generating capacity. Combined, wind and solar alone exceed one-tenth (i.e., 10.18%) of installed capacity – a share greater than either nuclear power (9.11%), hydropower (8.49%), or oil (3.64%). **
FERC data show that 14 new “units” of wind, totaling 1,568 megawatts (MW), came into service in January and February 2018 along with 40 units of solar (565-MW) for a total of 2,133-MW. Two units of natural gas provided another 40-MW of new capacity. No capacity additions were reported for any other energy sources (i.e., coal, oil, nuclear, hydropower, biomass, geothermal).
FERC’s report further suggests that the rapid expansion and growing dominance of renewable energy sources will continue at least through March 2021. Proposed new net generating capacity (i.e., additions minus retirements) by renewables over the next three years totals 146,717-MW or 69.2% of the total (i.e., 211,875-MW). Proposed new net generating capacity by wind (84,324-MW) and solar (48,814-MW) alone are 62.8% of the total – supplemented by hydropower (11,839-MW), geothermal (1,130-MW), and biomass (610-MW).
Most of the remaining net proposed new generating capacity to be added between now and March 2021is accounted for by natural gas (77,421-MW – 36.5%). Net proposed additions by nuclear total only 1,831-MW while those from oil are just 231-MW. FERC also lists proposed new net generating capacity from waste heat (176-MW) and “other” sources such as fuel cells and energy storage (680-MW). Notably, the net generating capacity of coal would actually decline by 15,181-MW as 17,008-MW of coal capacity is retired, eclipsing just 1,827-MW of additions.
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FERC’s latest 5-page “Energy Infrastructure Update” report was released on April 23, 2018. For the data cited in this news update, see: https://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/2018/feb-energy-infrastructure.pdf
** Note: Capacity is not the same as actual generation. While renewable energy capacity as of February 2018 reached 20.39% of the nation’s total, electrical generation was a bit lower. According to data provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electrical generation by renewable sources totaled 17.6% in 2017.