Non-hydro renewable energy sources accounted for more than 99% of all new U.S. electrical generating capacity installed during January for a total of 324 MW, according to the latest Energy Infrastructure Update report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Citing the FERC statistics, renewable energy advocacy group SUN DAY Campaign explains solar led the way in January with 13 new ‘units’ totaling 287 MW, followed by geothermal steam with three new units totaling 30 MW. Biomass added three new units totaling 3 MW, while wind had one new unit with an installed capacity of 4 MW. In addition, there was 1 MW added that FERC defined as ‘other.’
The slow-down in new wind power is no surprise. As the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) recently noted in its fourth-quarter 2013 market report, policy uncertainty led to a dive in new U.S. installed wind capacity last year. However, AWEA found that over 12 GW of new wind capacity started construction in 2013 and is slated to come online within the next few years.
According to the FERC statistics, renewable energy sources, including hydropower, now account for 16.03% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: hydro – 8.44%, wind – 5.20%, biomass – 1.36%, solar – 0.70%, and geothermal steam – 0.33%. This is more than nuclear (9.26%) and oil (4.04%) combined.
‘The trends are unmistakable,’ concludes Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. ‘Renewables are the energy growth market of the future, with solar – for the moment, at least – the leader of the pack.’