Renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and hydro, accounted for 82% of all new domestic electrical generating capacity installed in the first quarter of this year for a total of 1,546 MW, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's latest Energy Infrastructure Update report.
The balance of new generating capacity, comprising 340 MW, came from natural gas. Coal, nuclear power and oil have provided no new generating capacity thus far this year.
Wind led the way for the first quarter, with six new ‘units’ totaling 958 MW, followed by solar with 38 units totaling 537 MW. Biomass added 28 new units totaling 46 MW, while hydro had four new units with an installed capacity of 5.4 MW. No new capacity was reported for geothermal steam.
For the month of March alone, however, 100% of the new electrical generation in service came from solar (seven new units with a combined capacity of 44 MW). The installed capacity of new solar units during the first quarter (537 MW) is more than double that installed during the same period in 2012 (264 MW).
Renewable sources now account for nearly 16% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: hydro (8.53%), wind (5.18%), biomass (1.30%), solar (0.44%) and geothermal (0.32%). This is more than nuclear (9.15%) and oil (3.54%) combined.
‘Month after month, renewable energy sources continue to dominate the new electrical generating capacity being brought online in the United States,’ says Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable energy technologies. ‘The path towards a zero-coal, zero-nuclear future becomes clearer with each new report.’