In US, new renewable installations 1,460 times more than new coal

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Nearly 3,000MW of wind energy helps push renewables to more than 60% of new generation capacity installed in US in first 9 months of 2015.

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The 735.5 MW Horse Hollow Wind Farm, Texas. Photo credit: The Danish Wind Industry Association / Vindmølleindustrien.
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Renewable energy sources have accounted for more than 60 per cent of the more than 7,000MW of new electricity generating capacity brought online in the US in 2015, a new report has revealed.

The report, the latest Energy Infrastructure Update from FERC, shows that wind energy was the major single contributor to new capacity in the first nine months of the year, accounting for 2,966 megawatts (MW) of the total 7,276 MW of new capacity – or more than 40 per cent – and beating out gas.

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Solar power followed with 1,137MW, biomass with 205MW, geothermal energy with 45MW, and hydropower with 27MW. Gas, meanwhile, contributed 2,884MW.

FERC reported no new capacity for the year-to-date from nuclear power and just 9MW from oil and 3MW from 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 in the US now account for 17.4 per cent of total installed operating capacity, the report says, with the share of total installed capacity from solar more than doubling over the past two years.

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Total installed generating capacity from non-hydro renewables now amounts to 8.81 per cent, exceeding that from conventional hydropower (8.59%), and just below nuclear (9.19%).

On the other hand, generating capacity from coal has declined from 28.9 per cent in September 2013 to 26.61 per cent today, the report shows.

“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,” said Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign.

“In fact, the latest FERC data suggests that the CPP’s goals are unduly modest and renewables will handily surpass them.”

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6 Comments
  1. Mike Dill 3 years ago

    While the capacity number are nice to see, the real number is the utilization factor. From what I understand, a large portion of the NG fleet in the USA is not running except at peak, which does not happen as often now that solar and wind have beaten down those.

    • Jacob 3 years ago

      True. The figures should be GWh.

  2. trackdaze 3 years ago

    I do hope behind the meter renewables arent included in these? 13gw total solar is equivalent to what china installed this year alone.

    • RobS 3 years ago

      Nope this is only utility scale installations regulated by FERC, even large commercial and industrial scale systems aren’t covered unless they are regulated as a utility installation.

  3. JonathanMaddox 3 years ago

    How did they manage to install 3MW worth of coal generation?

  4. GreenHeretic 3 years ago

    So what? We aren’t building new capacity in the US because we don’t need it.

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