Renewable Energy Provides More Than 40 Percent of New Generating Capacity

Renewable energy a major source of new generating capacity in the United StatesAccording to data from the latest Energy Infrastructure Update report just released from the Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, renewable energy sources including solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and hydro account for 40.61 percent of all new electrical energy capacity put into service in the U.S. through the first nine months of 2014. Only natural gas provided more new capacity during the first three quarters of the year.

New generation capacity from these combined sources of renewable energy in 2014 is nearly 35 times that of coal, oil and nuclear combined – 3,598 megawatts (MW) from renewables and only 104 MW from coal, oil and nuclear.

In September, two-thirds of new generating capacity came from renewable energy sources. Of the 603 MW of new capacity last month, solar contributed 41 MW (6.8 percent) and wind 367 MW (60.86 percent).

Since January of 2014 8,860 MW of new generating capacity has been installed from all sources. Of that, 187 units of solar account for 1,671 MW (18.86 percent), 28 units of wind provide 1,614 MW (18.22 percent), 7 units, or 141 MW, of hydropower (1.59 percent), 38 units of biomass for 140 MW (1.58 percent) and 5 units of geothermal producing 32 MW of new capacity (0.36 percent).

The balance of new generating capacity came from 41 units of natural gas for 5,153 MW (58.16 percent), 1 unit of nuclear at 71 MW (0.80 percent), 11 units of oil providing 33 MW (0.37 percent) and 6 units of “other” to round out new capacity with 7 MW (0.08 percent).

No new units of coal has been added in 2014 as more coal plants are retired.

When comparing the first three quarters of 2013 to the same period this year, new generating capacity from renewable sources grew 11.8 percent: 3,218 MW in 2013 vs. 3,598 MW in 2014.

In total, renewable energy accounts for 16.35 percent of the installed operating generating capacity in the United States, up from 15.68 percent a year earlier. Renewable energy capacity is now larger than oil (3.97 percent) and nuclear (9.23 percent) combined.

“The steady and rapid growth of renewable energy is unlikely to abate as prices continue to drop and the technologies continue to improve,” noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The era of coal, oil, and nuclear is drawing to a close; the age of renewable energy is now upon us.”

Image credit: Emilian Robert Vicol, courtesy flickr


Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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