Renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, biomass and geothermal, accounted for 24.93% of all new U.S. electrical generating capacity installed in the first six months of this year for a total of 2,144 MW, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) latest Energy Infrastructure Update report.
Thus far this year, renewables provided more new generating capacity than did coal (1,579 MW – 18.36%), oil (26 MW – 0.30%) and nuclear power (0 MW – 0.00%) combined. However, natural gas dominated the first half of 2013 with 4,852 MW of new capacity (56.41%).
Among renewable energy sources, solar led the way for the first half of 2013 with 94 new ‘units’ totaling 979 MW followed by wind with eight new units totaling 959 MW. Biomass added 36 new units totaling 116 MW while water had eight new units with an installed capacity of 76 MW and geothermal steam had one new unit of 14 MW.
For the month of June alone, six new solar projects in North Carolina and one in New Mexico came online with a total capacity of 15 MW while a single 4 MW hydropower project was also added. No new capacity was reported for the month for natural gas, but coal and oil had additions of 618 MW and 26 MW, respectively.
For the first half of this year, compared to the first half of 2012, new capacity from all sources declined by 16.16% (from 10,259 MW to 8,601 MW). However, solar capacity grew by 3.70% while natural gas capacity increased by 12.47%. Water power saw a more than ten-fold increase from 7 MW in the first six months of 2012 to 76 MW thus far in 2013.
Renewable sources now account for nearly 16% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: hydro – 8.52%, wind – 5.17%, biomass – 1.31%, solar – 0.48%, and geothermal steam – 0.33%. This is more than nuclear (9.05%) and oil (3.51%) combined.
"Renewable energy sources continue their rapid growth in the nation's electrical generation mix, outpacing traditional sources such as coal, oil and nuclear power," says Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable energy technologies." Clearly, earlier public and private investments in R&D and commercialization are paying off."