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Chart: Wind Energy Dominates the 37GW of Power Under Construction

Katherine Tweed's picture
, Greentech Media
  • Member since 2018
  • 180 items added with 107,225 views
  • Apr 29, 2014

When it comes to new power capacity in the U.S., it’s all about renewables.

Last October, renewable energy accounted for nearly 100 percent of all new generation capacity in the U.S. For the first quarter of 2014, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that renewable energy sources, primarily wind and solar, made up more than 90 percent of new installed power capacity, with natural gas making up the remainder.

The trend is shown below in a map from Ventyx, ABB’s software arm and a leader in IT/OT convergence and helping utilities integrate renewables into their systems. Wind power projects dominate new capacity under construction, according to the chart, followed by natural gas plants and then solar.

In the case of renewables, however, new generation capacity isn’t necessarily available to the grid. Just a few years ago, the image of all of that planned wind would prompt industry observers to wonder when it would finally be connected to the grid.

But grid connections are coming along, too. In 2013, four major transmission projects were completed, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The four connections can carry about 10,000 megawatts of new wind, and there are another fifteen projects in the advanced stages of development that will carry another 60,000 megawatts by 2018, according to AWEA.

For all of the renewable bright spots on the Ventyx map, the additions still have a long way to go in unseating fossil fuels as the dominant source of energy in the U.S.

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Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on Apr 29, 2014

With net electric demand shrinking due to the contracting economy, the only reasons to add capacity are to replace generators which are retired or to switch to cheaper fuels.  Wind operates under different incentives.  It has next to zero capacity value, but as long as each kWh delivered receives a production tax credit there’s plenty of reason to build it even if nobody needs the power.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on May 1, 2014

The total national/global amount of energy available from such systems is tiny, and worse, most annual output is produced during the spring snow melts, exactly when electrical demand is lowest, and wind output is greatest.

The Earth has three large sustainable energy sources: wind, solar, and nuclear.  Big hydro is a great supplement, due to its historic contribution, seasonal energy storage, dispatchability, and association with municipal and agricultural water supply.  None of the rest will amount to much; they are simply too small to matter.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on May 1, 2014

The map also shows an interesting trend which I believe is generic: the renewable-rich areas are installing renewables (i.e. solar in the southwest, wind in the central plains), and the rest of the nations is choosing between nuclear and fossil fuel.

Katherine Tweed's picture
Thank Katherine for the Post!
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