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Renewables -- 70% of New Power This Year

Words by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Energy & Environment
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The future of electricity in the U.S. of A is in renewables. Renewable energy accounted for almost 70 percent (69.5 percent) of new electricity generation in the U.S. during the first half of this year.

The recent report by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects found that wind accounted for almost 2,000 megawatts of new generating capacity. That is over half of all new capacity. Solar accounted for 549 MW, biomass 128 MW, geothermal steam 45 MW, and hydropower 21 MW.

Natural gas accounted for 1,173 MW of new generating capacity, and nuclear power did not account for any new capacity. Coal only accounted for 3 MW of new capacity. That means that the new capacity from renewable energy sources is 904 times greater than coal and more than double natural gas, as Ken Bossong from the Sun Day Campaign pointed out.

In June, wind accounted for 320 MW, biomass 95 MW and solar 62 MW, which means that renewables made up 97 percent of new capacity last month. Natural gas only accounted for 15 MW.

In the U.S. renewables now account for 17.27 percent of total installed operating generating capacity, and are greater than nuclear power and oil, Bossong wrote. For comparison, renewables accounted for 13 percent of U.S. electricity generation last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

There is a huge potential for renewable energy in the U.S. A study by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that renewable energy sources could provide 80 percent of U.S. electricity generation by 2050.

How does your state rank in renewable energy generation?


The site Energy.gov ranks the states by renewable capacity. A handful of states rank very high, with renewables accounting for 80 to 100 percent of electricity generation: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, South Dakota, Iowa, Delaware, Rhode Island and Maine.

Delaware, Rhode Island and Maine get most of their electricity generation from renewables. In Delaware, biomass accounts for the majority of electricity generation. In Maine, it’s hydropower and biomass, while Rhode Island is building the nation’s first offshore wind facility. The 6 MW wind farm is expected to come online in 2016.

Image credit: Flickr/Peter Heilmann

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

Read more stories by Gina-Marie Cheeseman