Half New US Capacity Renewable In 2014

on March 05, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Wind turbines from Shutterstock

Future is a race between renewables and gas; the former likely to prevail in the long-run 

For the first time in history, more new renewables were added to the US installed capacity in 2014 than any other form of generation. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, renewable energy sources including wind, solar, biomass, hydroelectric and geothermal accounted for nearly half – 49.81% to be exact – of new electrical generation brought into service during 2014 while natural gas accounted for 48.65%.

Wind accounted for over a quarter of added capacity followed by solar at over 20% followed by biomass, hydropower and geothermal.

In contrast, a single new 106 MW coal facility came on-line in 2014 in the US while nuclear capacity expanded by a mere 71MW due to a plant upgrade compared to 7,663 MW of renewables. New renewable capacity added in 2014 was 34 times that from coal, nuclear and oil combined. New natural gas capacity totaled 7,485 MW.

Solar gaining on wind in US market: US renewable capacity built by type, 2008-14, in GW


Source: 2015 Factbook: Sustainable energy in America, Bloomberg New Energy Finance & Business Council for sustainable energy, Feb

Renewable energy sources now account for nearly 17% of total installed capacity in the US compared to 9% for nuclear, although the latter generates more kWhrs due to much higher capacity factor. Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign, who keeps track of data, rhetorically asked, “Can there any longer be doubt about the emerging trends in new US electrical capacity?” adding, “Coal, oil, and nuclear have become historical relics and it is now a race between renewable sources and natural gas with renewables taking the lead.”

Published Originally in EEnergy Informer: The International Energy Newsletter March 2015 Issue.