21 May 2017 2017 09:15 AM GMT

US Wind And Solar Surge: Providing Majority of New Generating Capacity Q1 2017

According to the latest issue of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” (with data through March 31, 2017), wind and solar provided 50.84% of the new electrical generating capacity added to the U.S. grid during the first quarter of 2017.

Thirteen “units” of wind totalling 1,479 MW combined with 62 units of solar (939 MW) exceeded the 2,235 MW provided by 21 units of natural gas and 102 MW provided by one unit of nuclear power. There was also 1-MW of capacity from “other” sources (e.g., fuel cells). In the first three months of the year, no new generating capacity was provided by coal, oil, hydropower, biomass, or geothermal.

Moreover, the pace of growth of new solar and wind capacity is accelerating. For the first quarter of 2017, new capacity from those sources is 18.07% greater than that added during the same three-month period in 2016 (2,418 MW vs. 2048 MW). Renewable sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind) now account for almost one-fifth (19.51%) of the nation’s total available installed generating capacity: hydropower (8.48%), wind (7.12%), solar (2.17%), biomass (1.41%), and geothermal (0.33%). By comparison, at the end of 2016, renewables provided 19.17% of the total generating capacity. If current growth rates continue, renewables should top 20% before the end of this year. Generating capacity from renewable sources is now more than double that of nuclear power (9.10%) and rapidly approaching that of coal (24.25%).  

It is to be noted that generating capacity is not the same as actual generation. Electrical production per MW of available capacity (i.e., capacity factor) for renewables is often lower than that for fossil fuels and nuclear power. As noted, the total installed operating generating capacity provided by renewables in 2017 is now 19.51% of the nation’s total whereas actual electrical generation from renewables for the first two months of 2017 (according to the latest U.S. Energy Information Administration figures) is roughly 18.2%. However, both of these figures understate renewables’ actual contribution because neither EIA nor FERC fully accounts for all electricity generated by smaller-scale, distributed renewable energy sources. FERC’s data, for example, is limited to plants with a nameplate capacity of 1 MW or greater and thereby fail to include distributed sources such as rooftop solar.

“The Trump Administration’s efforts to reboot coal and expand oil drilling continue to be proven wrong-headed in light of the latest FERC data,” noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Once more, renewables – led by wind and solar – have proven themselves to be the energy sources making America great again.”  The SUN DAY Campaign is a non-profit research and educational organization founded in 1992 to aggressively promote sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels.

May 20th 2018
European Parliament Gives A Resounding Vote In Favour Of Clean Energy In Europe

European lawmakers have called for a renewable energy target of 35% for 2030 – rather than the 27% which the European Commission proposed in 2016. The MEPs have now backed measures substantially raising the European Union’s clean-energy ambitions. By 2030, more than one-third of energy consumed in the EU should be from renewable sources such as wind and solar power. The measures are intended to help cut carbon dioxide emissions. The EU is the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States, releasing about 10% of global emissions. 

August 15th 2018
Electrification The Key To Decarbonising Europe’s Economy

Electrification is the key to decarbonising Europe’s economy, according to WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson. He said: “according to the IEA, wind will be the #1 source of electricity soon after 2030, providing more than 30% of Europe’s electricity, but electricity is only 22% of the final energy needed by Europe’s economy. Political momentum is starting to grow for an EU target of net-zero emissions in 2050. To do this we’ll need to electrify heating and transport, where the share of renewables is just 18% and 6% respectively; that has to be the #1 priority”.

January 10th 2018
US: Doubling Of Wind & Solar Capacity Possible By 2020 as Coal & Nuclear Drop

In the latest issue of its “Energy Infrastructure Update” (with data through November 30, 2017), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) notes that proposed net additions to generating capacity by utility-scale wind and solar could total 115,984 megawatts (MW) by December 2020 – effectively doubling their current installed capacity of 115,520 MW.  The numbers were released as FERC prepares for a January 10 meeting to consider U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal for a bailout of the coal and nuclear industries.

December 6th 2017
Renewables Provide 17.8% Of Total US Electricity. Solar Now 2.0% And Wind 6.0%

According to the latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) “Electric Power Monthly” report, U.S. electrical generation from renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar – inc. distributed solar, wind) rose by 14.69% during the first three-quarters of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. Simultaneously, electrical generation by fossil fuels and nuclear power combined declined by 5.41%. Nuclear power and coal both dropped by 1.5%, natural gas (including “other” gas) was down by 10.7%, and oil (i.e., petroleum liquids and petroleum coke) plunged by 17.1%.

July 28th 2018
IRENA: Clean Energy Deployment, Core To Sustainable Development Goals

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has highlighted the contribution renewables make to sustainable development and the substantial, cross-sectoral socio-economic benefits of energy transition during the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development. The meeting took place at UN headquarters in New York recently and reviewed the implementation of key Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), including SDG 7 – access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy; and also underscored the importance of accelerating renewable energy deployment to realise the SDG landmarks.

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