Wind and Solar Provide 98 Percent of New Electrical Generation in January and February

Wind and solar accounted for more than 98 percent of all new U.S. electrical generation placed into service in the first two months of this year, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of data released by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commissions (FERC).

“Energy Infrastructure Update” (with summary statistics for January and February 2018) from FERC also reveals that the total installed capacity of renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) now provides over one-fifth (20.39 percent) of total available U.S. generating capacity. Combined, wind and solar alone exceed one-tenth (10.18 percent) of installed capacity; a share greater than either nuclear power (9.11 percent), hydropower (8.49 percent), or oil (3.64 percent).

FERC data show that 14 new units of wind, totaling 1,568 megawatts (MW), came into service in January and February 2018 along with 40 units of solar (565-MW) for a total of 2,133-MW. Two units of natural gas provided another 40-MW of new capacity. No capacity additions were reported for any other energy sources (coal, oil, nuclear, hydropower, biomass, geothermal).

The FERC report further suggests that the expansion and growing dominance of renewable energy sources will continue at least through March 2021. Proposed new net generating capacity (additions minus retirements) by renewables over the next three years totals 146,717-MW or 69.2 percent of the total (211,875-MW). Proposed new net generating capacity by wind (84,324-MW) and solar (48,814-MW) alone are 62.8 percent of the total, supplemented by hydropower (11,839-MW), geothermal (1,130-MW), and biomass (610-MW).

Most of the remaining net proposed new generating capacity to be added between now and March 2021 is accounted for by natural gas (77,421-MW – 36.5 percent). Net proposed additions by nuclear total only 1,831-MW while those from oil are just 231-MW. FERC also lists proposed new net generating capacity from waste heat (176-MW) and other sources, such as fuel cells and energy storage (680-MW). Notably, the net generating capacity of coal would actually decline by 15,181-MW as 17,008-MW of coal capacity is retired, eclipsing just 1,827-MW of additions.

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