US: NREL data book reveals 83% PV capacity increase in 2012


The United States’ National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released its 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book, which reveals that solar PV capacity across the country grew by 83% in the 12 months between 2011 and 2012.

The study, compiled on behalf of the U.S. Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, is an annual assessment of the country’s energy performance, with solid emphasis on the growing influence and importance of renewable energy sources.

A key finding from the study shows that solar and wind power were two of the fastest-growing energy generation sources in 2012, with cumulative installed solar power outstripping wind energy capacity by almost three times the volume.

The study also revealed that renewable electricity in 2012 accounted for 14% of all total installed capacity, and more than 12% of all electricity generated in the U.S. for the year. In total, installed renewable electricity capacity in the U.S. in 2012 reached 163 GW – a figure that double between 2000 and 2012.

In terms of new electrical capacity installations, renewable energy now outperforms traditional sources: in 2012, more than half of all new energy capacity added to the U.S. – 56% to be exact – came from renewable sources. As recently as 2004, that figure was a mere 2%.

"The Renewable Energy Data Book is filled with information-packed charts and graphics, which allows users, from analysts to policymakers, to quickly understand and summarize trends in renewable energy – both on a U.S. and a global scale," said NREL energy analyst Rachel Gelman.