Wind Energy Dominates New U.S. Power In First Three Quarters

Source: By North American Windpower • Posted: Friday, October 30, 2015

Wind energy provided more new U.S. electrical generating capacity than any other resource did during the first nine months of 2015, according to the latest Energy Infrastructure Update reportfrom the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Citing the FERC statistics, nonprofit SUN DAY Campaign says 26 new “units” of wind power accounted for 2,966 MW – or, more than 40.76% of all new U.S. capacity – during the period.

Furthermore, the group says the combined capacity from renewable energy sources, including wind, biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar, during the first three-quarters of the year made up 60.20% of the 7,276 MW of new generation placed in service – much more than the new total from coal, nuclear and even natural gas.

Wind dominated the period, and solar followed with 1,137 MW (142 units), biomass with  205 MW (16 units), geothermal steam with 45 MW (1 unit), and hydropower with 27 MW (18 units). Thirty-four units of natural gas contributed 2,884 MW.

Meanwhile, FERC reports no new capacity for the year-to-date from nuclear power and just 9 MW from six units of oil and 3 MW from one unit of coal. Thus, new capacity from renewable energy sources during the period was 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 again dominated, with 448 MW in new capacity, followed by natural gas (346 MW) and solar (20 MW).

Renewable energy sources now account for 17.40% of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: hydro – 8.59%, wind – 5.91%, biomass – 1.43%, solar – 1.13%, and geothermal steam – 0.34%. For comparison, SUN DAY says, renewables were 16.35% of new capacity in September 2014 and 15.68% in September 2013.

The group notes that the share of total installed capacity from solar alone has more than doubled over the past two years (1.13% vs. 0.54%). In addition, total installed capacity from non-hydro renewables (8.81%) now exceeds that from conventional hydropower (8.59%).

Renewable electrical capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.19%) and oil (3.87%) combined. In fact, the installed capacity of wind power has now surpassed that of oil. On the other hand, the group says, generating capacity from coal has declined from 28.94% in September 2013 to 26.61% today.

“With Congress and numerous states now questioning the ability of renewable energy sources to meet targets called for in the [Obama 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,” says Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “In fact, the latest FERC data suggest that the CPP’s goals are unduly modest, and renewables will handily surpass them.”