Wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower combined provided more than 75% of the 1.2 GW of new U.S. electrical generating capacity placed into service during the first quarter, according to the latest Energy Infrastructure Update report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) office of energy projects.
Specifically, during the quarter, eight new units of wind came online with a combined capacity of 647 MW – accounting for 52.64% of all new generating capacity for the quarter. It was followed by 30 units of solar (214 MW), one unit of geothermal steam (45 MW) and one unit of hydropower (21 MW).
The balance of new generating capacity – or 302 MW – was provided by five natural gas units. FERC reported no new capacity from biomass sources for the quarter, nor any from coal, oil or nuclear power.
According to the nonprofit SUN DAY Campaign, the numbers for 2015 are similar for the same period in 2014 when renewables provided more than 1.4 GW of new capacity and natural gas provided 159 MW, while coal and nuclear provided none and oil just 1 MW. Renewable energy sources accounted for half of all new generating capacity last year.
‘The trend lines for the past several years have been consistent and unmistakable,’ notes Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. ‘Each month, renewable energy sources – particularly wind and solar – increase their share of the nation's generating capacity while those of coal, oil and nuclear decline.’
Renewable energy sources now account for 16.92% of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: water (8.53%), wind (5.65%), biomass (1.38%), solar (1.03%) and geothermal steam (0.33%).