US: 100% of new generating capacity in July renewable

20. August 2014 | Financial & Legal Affairs, Market & Trends | By:  Jonathan Gifford

FERC figures reveal that last month renewable sources accounted for 100% of new generating capacity added to U.S. electricity grids. Solar accounted for 21 MW of the 405 MW of capacity added in July.

The US flag.

Renewables have dominated in July, with solar coming only behind natural gas and coal in new capacity adds for H1 2014.

While in 2014 natural gas continues to be the largest source for new generation capacity added to U.S. grids, solar, wind and hydropower have dominated the figures for July. Figures from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) show that two wind, two hydro and five solar generating facilities were the only new generation capacity added during the month.

Solar’s share of the July capacity adds totaled 21 MW, behind wind, which saw two facilities responsible for 379 MW completed, but ahead of hydro, which had two new facilities adding 5 MW of capacity.

Somewhat surprisingly, four of the five large solar arrays connected to the grid in July weren’t in the states typically thought of solar powerhouses like California. The arrays were spread across Indianapolis, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maryland.

Blue Energy completed the 9 MW Indianapolis Motor Speedway Solar Farm, Renewable Energy 10 connected the 5.9 MW Lancaster Solar Project in Massachusetts, the 2.5 MW Clarendon Solar Farm went online, as did Ikea’s 2.4 MW Perryville Distribution Center’s expansion project. The Ikea site will consume the electricity generated on site while the other projects have signed PPAs.

Looking at H1 2014, 9.5 GW of new generating capacity was added to U.S. grids, of which solar accounted for 1.297 GW across 156 projects. This compares to 5.277 GW of new gas generation, 1.543 GW of coal 963 MW of wind and 116 MW of hydropower. That solar comes in third place, and so close to new coal capacity, is testament to the rapid growth of the industry.  Small-scale generation is also not included in the FERC figures.

In terms of total generation solar remains a minnow, albeit a fast growing one. Solar accounts for only 0.75% of total generating capacity in the U.S., with 9.31 GW installed – according to the FERC figures. In 2013, the U.S. added 2.2 GW of PV in installations larger than 1 MW.

The most recent FERC figures were released in its Energy Infrastructure Update for July 2014.


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