Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Great Job Renewables - "Solar and Wind Provide 70 Percent of New US Generating Capacity in November 2014"

It seems that we see this announced very often in the past few years. It still makes me tingle with pride as I can remember when I very first started in the industry and could count on one hand the amount of folks I knew involved in the industry. It is truly amazing to witness.
Renewable Energy World Logo
Kenneth Bossong,


Solar and wind via Shutterstock
 According to the latest "Energy Infrastructure Update" report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, wind energy and solar power combined provided over 70 percent (71.82%) of the 873 megawatts (MW) of new U.S. electrical generating capacity placed into service in November 2014.


So, for the ninth time in the past eleven months, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) accounted for the majority of new U.S. electrical generation brought into service. Natural gas took the lead in the other two months (April and August).
Of the 10,926-MW of new generating capacity from all sources installed since January 1, 2014, 39 units of wind accounted for 2,525-MW (23.11 percent), followed by 235 units of solar - 2,203-MW (20.16 percent), 49 units of biomass - 282-MW (2.58 percent), 7 units of hydropower - 141-MW (1.29 percent), and 5 units of geothermal - 32-MW (0.29 percent). In total, renewables have provided 47.43 percent of new U.S. electrical generating capacity thus far in 2014.
The balance came from 46 units of natural gas - 5,513-MW (50.46 percent), 1 unit of coal - 106-MW (0.97 percent), 1 unit of nuclear - 71-MW (0.65 percent), 15 units of oil - 47-MW (0.43 percent), and 6 units of "other" - 7-MW (0.06 percent). Thus, new capacity from renewable energy sources in 2014 is 49 times that from coal, 73 times that from nuclear, and 110 times that from oil.
Renewable energy sources now account for 16.44 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: water - 8.43 percent, wind - 5.42 percent, biomass - 1.38 percent, solar - 0.88 percent, and geothermal steam - 0.33 percent.  Renewable energy capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.22 percent) and oil (3.97 percent) combined. Note that generating capacity is not the same as actual generation. Generation per MW of capacity (i.e., capacity factor) for renewables is often lower than that for fossil fuels and nuclear power. According to the most recent data (i.e., as of September 2014) provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, actual net electrical generation from renewable energy sources now totals a bit more than 13 percent of total U.S. electrical production; however, this figure almost certainly understates renewables' actual contribution significantly because EIA does not fully account for all electricity generated by distributed renewable energy sources (e.g., rooftop solar).
With only one month left in 2014, it has become a horse race between natural gas and renewable energy as to which will dominate new electrical generation for the year. Regardless of the winner, it is apparent that coal, oil, and nuclear will be left behind in the dust.

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