Wind energy tops new US power generation – coal nowhere to be seen

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Report highlights rise of renewables – and demise of new coal – in US as wind power provides nearly 70% of new generating capacity in October.

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Wind power provided more than two-thirds of new US electricity generating capacity in October, marking the eighth time in the past 10 months renewable energy has accounted for the majority of new generation in America – and the tenth month in a row of no new coal.

According to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Project, the addition of five new wind farms amounting to 574MW saw wind power provide 68.4 per cent of new capacity in America last month.rsz_wyoming-wind-638x435

In addition, the report said, there was 102MW of biomass and 31MW of solar added, accounting for 12.16 per cent and 3.7 per cent of new capacity respectively, while the balance came from natural gas (132 MW – 15.73%).

And while natural gas maintained the fossil fuel presence in America’s energy profile, new coal plants were nowhere to be seen, with the report showing no coal capacity added thus far in 2014.

In fact, according to the report, renewable energy’s contribution to new power generating capacity in the US so far this year has been 37 times greater than that from oil, coal, and nuclear combined.

In total this year, renewables have provided just under half – 44.47 per cent – of new US electrical generating capacity thus far, with wind accounting for most of the 9,903MW added from all sources installed since January 1, the report said.

This was followed by 1801MW of solar (18.19%), 241MW of biomass (2.43%), 141MW of hydropower (1.42%), and 32MW of geothermal (0.32%).

The balance came from natural gas, with a total of 5,373MW (54.26%) added this year, as well as 71MW of nuclear (0.72%), 47MW of oil (0.47%), and 7MW (0.07%) of “other”.

All up, renewable energy sources now account for just over 16 per cent of total installed operating generating capacity in the US.

Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, said that for the wind industry, the month’s figures were confirmation that the now-defunct federal government production tax credit for wind had been “a very sound investment.”

“Congress is debating whether to renew …(it) for wind and other renewable energy sources,” Bossong said in a statement on Monday.

Sophie Vorrath

Sophie is editor of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and deputy editor of its sister site, RenewEconomy.com.au. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.

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