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Renewable Energy Provides 56 Percent of New Electrical Generation Capacity in First Half of 2014

Tom Schueneman's picture

Environmental writer, journalist and web publisher. Founder of

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  • Jul 23, 2014

Renewable energy on the march

Renewables adoptionKeeping with the steady growth and adoption of renewable energy, the latest Energy Infrastructure Update report just released from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects states that wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydropower accounts for 55.7 percent of newly installed generating capacity in the U.S. for the first half of 2014.

Of the total 3,529 megawatts (MW) installed, 1,965 MW came from renewable sources, fully one-third of that, 32.1 percent, came from solar, with 1,131 MW of new solar generating capacity installed so far this year. Wind energy follows with 19.8 percent of the total, or 699 MW of new capacity, followed by biomass with 87 MW (2.5 percent of total), geothermal with 32 MW (0.9 percent) and finally 16 MW from hydro (0.5 percent of total).

According to the FERC report, natural gas provided most the balance of new generating capacity in the first half of the year with 1,555 MW, accounting for 44.1 percent of newly installed generating capacity. There was no new coal or nuclear capacity installed.

The growth of renewable energy in 2014 continues the trend of renewable energy as an increasingly dominant source of new electrical generating capacity in the United States. For the past 30 months, since January 1, 2012,  renewable sources of energy has provided nearly half – 48 percent – of all new generating capacity, bringing 22,774 MW online of the 47,446 MW total new capacity.

Since January 1, 2011, renewables have contributed more new capacity than even natural gas – 31,345 MW vs. 47,446 MW – and almost four times as from coal, which only accounts for 8,235 MW of newly installed generating capacity.

EIA continually low-balling the growth of renewable energy

Two years ago, in June of 2012, renewable energy sources accounted for 14.76 percent of total installed generating capacity in operation. Today renewable provide 16.28 percent, more than nuclear and oil combined. Yet the EIA continues to downplay and underestimate the growth of renewable generating capacity.

“A new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is projecting that renewable energy sources will account for only 24 percnet of new capacity additions between now and 2040,” says Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “However, the latest FERC data coupled with that published during the past several years indicate that EIA’s numbers are once again low-balling the likely share – and probably dominant share – of renewables in the nation’s future energy mix.”

Given the evidence of the past months and years, it is clear that the long-term future of energy, and thus a sustainable and thriving economy, is with renewable sources of energy. The transition will not happen overnight, but it is happening faster than many said it would.

Image credit: wikimedia

The post Renewable Energy Provides 56 Percent of New Electrical Generation Capacity in First Half of 2014 appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

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Schalk Cloete's picture
Schalk Cloete on Jul 24, 2014

What is the reason for the extremely low wind buildout? The miserly 699 MW installed thus far in 2014 is even worse than last year – the year when the US wind install rate slumped by 92% (similar to previous instances of a cancellation of the PTC). Will the impact of the latest boom in the typical boom-bust created by the PTC only be felt during the second half of 2014 and 2015?

Solar also seems to have broken the trend of rapid increases in deployment rates with the 2014 numbers being slightly lower than the 2013 numbers. 

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Jul 29, 2014

“A wind plant’s capacity is useless when the wind isn’t blowing ….   At all of these points, the capacity of these forms of so called “renewable energy” is zero. Zero.  Nada.  Zilch.  Nothing.”

So is a 1GW NPP that brakes down in a few seconds. For that you need a 1GW spinning reserve for that, including the power line capacity to transport it to the customers of that NPP.

As the level (and decrease) of solar and wind production is accurately predicted (wheather and experience of the grid operators), you don’t need so much spinning reserve all the time. 
And thanks to the distributed generation by thousands of units, a sudden failure of a wind turbine or solar installation has hardly any influence at all.

As those small units (especial rooftop solar) are situated in the customers areas, they ask less (long) transport lines what contribute to the reliability of delivery.

So Germany experienced great improvement when wind & solar took steam in the last 10 years. Av. total customer outage time improved from 30min/a towards 15min/a including extreme weather outages.
USA still is at 120min/a outage time excluding outages due to extreme weather.

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