U.S. Renewables Continue To Outpace Coal, Oil And Nuclear In New Capacity


Renewable energy sources accounted for more than two-fifths (40.61%) of all new U.S. electrical generating capacity put in service during the first three quarters of this year, according to the latest Energy Infrastructure Update report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Only natural gas provided more new generating capacity.

Citing the FERC statistics, renewable energy advocacy group the SUN DAY Campaign says new capacity from renewables so far this year is almost 35 times that of coal, oil and nuclear combined (3,598 MW vs. 104 MW).

For the month of September alone, renewables accounted for over two-thirds of the 603 MW of new generating capacity put in service, with 367 MW (60.86%) coming from wind and 41 MW (6.80%) coming from solar.

Of the 8,860 MW of new U.S. capacity from all sources installed since Jan. 1, 187 ‘units’ of solar accounted for 1,671 MW (18.86%), followed by 28 units of wind totaling 1,614 MW (18.22%), seven units of hydropower equaling 141 MW (1.59%), 38 units of biomass making up 140 MW (1.58%), and five units of geothermal totaling 32 MW (0.36%).

The balance came from 41 units of natural gas totaling 5,153 MW (58.16%), one 71 MW unit of nuclear (0.80%), 11 units of oil equaling 33 MW (0.37%), and six units of ‘other’ totaling 7 MW (0.08%). There has been no new coal capacity added thus far in 2014, the SUN DAY Campaign notes.

Comparing the first nine months of 2014 to the same period in 2013, the organization says new U.S. generating capacity from renewable energy sources grew by 11.8% (3,598 MW vs. 3,218 MW).

Renewable energy sources now account for 16.35% of total installed operating capacity in the U.S. – up from 15.68% a year earlier: hydro – 8.45%, wind – 5.35%, biomass – 1.38%, solar – 0.84%, and geothermal steam – 0.33%. Renewable energy capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.23%) and oil (3.97%) combined.

‘The steady and rapid growth of renewable energy is unlikely to abate as prices continue to drop and the technologies continue to improve,’ says Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign.

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