The transitioning energy landscape of the U.S. has taken a further decisive step down the path marked "clean future" following data released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that showed renewable energy accounted for 70% of all new generating capacity in the first six months of the year.
FERCs latest Energy Infrastructure Update revealed that 69.75% of new electrical generation placed in service in the U.S. over the first half of the year came from wind, biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar sources.
New large-scale solar PV amounted to 549 MW, or 71 new units, according to the data. FERC does not take distributed solar PV (energy generated from residential and commercial rooftops) into account in its data*, which means that solars actual input to the U.S. energy mix is somewhat undersold by these figures.
However, the wider trend remains encouraging. There has been no new nuclear power or oil-based electricity generation capacity added anywhere in the U.S. so far this year, and only 3 MW of new coal capacity via a single installation. Hence, new renewable energy capacity is 904 times greater than that derived from coal.
Renewables also accounted for more than double the new capacity derived from gas, which offers further proof that the U.S. has embraced the benefits of clean energy wholesale. Currently, renewable energy source now account for 17.27% of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S., with large-scale solar PV at a little over 1% but growing all the time.
"With congress now debating whether to extend the federal tax incentives for renewable energy sources, it is reasonable to ask whether the American public has gotten a good return on these investments," said SUN DAY Campaign executive director Ken Bossong. The latest FERC data confirms that the answer is a resounding yes."
* While the FERC data demonstrates the ongoing growth of the U.S. renewable industry, recent figures have come in for widespread criticism from the solar sector for failing to recognize vast amounts of installed PV capacity, and as such often does not paint a wholly accurate picture of just how much solar is installed across the U.S.