US: Renewables accounted for 40% of all new power capacity in first three quarters


The latest energy infrastructure update report by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Ferc) has revealed that renewable energy accounts for 40.61% of all new energy generation capacity added so far this year.

Ferc's calculations – which only include utility-scale solar and omit distributed generation – also reveal that renewable additions to the U.S.’s power mix are 35 times that of new coal, oil and nuclear power. In the first three quarters of the year, 3,598 MW of clean energy has been added, versus just 104 MW of coal, oil and nuclear. Only natural gas, boosted by fracking, provided more new generating capacity.

In September, the Ferc data shows that 603 MW of new generating capacity was added, of which 41 MW was utility-scale solar. Ferc does not calculate solar PV capacity added at residential or commercial scale; an omission that overlooks two of the U.S.'s fastest-growing sources of renewable energy generation (according to NPD Solarbuzz, residential solar demand alone will top 1 GW a year based on the trailing 12-month rate).

Compared to year-on-year data, there is a clear pro-renewables trend in the U.S. In 2013, the first nine months of the year saw 3,218 MW of renewable energy added. In 2014, the figure of 3,598 MW represents a 11.8% increase in just 12 months.

Ferc's report states that renewable energy sources now account for 16.35% of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S. – up slightly from 15.68% in 2013. For utility-scale solar, that increase is 0.84%.

"The steady and rapid growth of renewable energy is unlikely to abate as prices continue to drop and the technologies continue to improve," said Ken Bossong, executive director of Ferc’s SUN DAY Campaign. "The era of coal, oil and nuclear is drawing to a close; the age of renewable energy is now upon us."

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