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Solar, Wind Account for 100 Percent of New Generation Capacity in April

Words by Andrew Burger
Energy & Environment
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The latest Energy Infrastructure Update from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Office of Energy Projects reveals just how much traction renewable energy is gaining as a source of electricity around the nation. Wind and solar accounted for 100 percent of newly-installed generation capacity in the U.S. in April, the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) highlights in its latest Sun Day Campaign update.

New solar, wind, geothermal and hydro power installations, moreover, have accounted for 84 percent of the 1,900 megawatts of new generation capacity installed in the U.S. during the first four months of 2015, FERC reports.

“Renewable energy sources now account for 17.05 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.,” ASES points out. Hydropower accounts for 8.55 percent of capicty; wind, 5.74 percent; biomass, 1.38 percent; solar, 1.05 percent; and geothermal steam, 0.33 percent. The total is up from 13.71 percent of capacity in December 2010, when FERC released its first monthly Energy Infrastructure Update.

Swimming against renewables' rising tide


Collectively, wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower provided just over 84 percent of the 1,900 megawatts of new generating capacity the U.S. placed into service during the first third of 2015. The nearly 1,600 MW of new renewable capacity installed across the country from January through April includes:

  • 1,170 MW of wind (61.5 percent)

  • 362 MW of solar (19.1 percent)

  • 45 MW of geothermal steam (2.4 percent)

  • 21 MW of hydropower (1.1 percent)

“The balance (302 MW) was provided by five units of natural gas," ASES notes.

Commenting on the latest statistics, Sun Day Campaign's executive director, Ken Bossong, stated:

"Members of Congress and state legislators proposing to curb support for renewable energy, such as Renewable Portfolio/Electricity Standards and the federal Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit, are swimming against the tide.  With renewable energy's clear track record of success and the ever-worsening threat of climate change, now is not the time to pull back from these technologies but rather to greatly expand investments in them."

Individuals and corporations fully vested in oil, gas and coal such as the Koch Brothers are spending unprecedented sums to influence federal, state and local legislators, regulators and the broad public in order to stem the fast rising renewables' tide.

Just one example: More solar power generation capacity was installed in North Carolina last year than in any other state barring California, yet a proposed bill would cut the state's renewable portfolio standard by 50 percent.

While Duke has said it isn't taking a position on the rollback, former CEO Jim Rogers lambasted the sponsors of the bill, including its primary booster Mike Hager, formerly a Duke engineer who now serves as North Carolina House Majority Leader.

“Shame on us,” Rogers said during a speech he gave in Charlotte recently, the Charlotte Observer's Bruce Henderson reported May 21.

During his speech, Rogers highlighted North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association reports that green energy companies have created 23,000 jobs and $4.8 billion in annual revenue since North Carolina's RPS went into effect.

“They are not focused on the future,” Rogers said in referring to state legislators. “They are focused on the past.” Later he added that: “It’s just something we need to get behind and figure out how to educate those who claim to be leading us into the 21st century,” according to Henderson's report for the Charlotte Observer.

*Image credits: 1) DOE U.S. Solar Decathlon; 2), 3) FERC

Andrew Burger

An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.

Read more stories by Andrew Burger