Wind energy and solar power combined provided more than 70% of the 873 MW of new U.S. electrical generating capacity placed into service in November, according to the latest report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Office of Energy Projects.
Wind energy led the way as three wind farms came online last month, accounting for 333 MW of new generation. Solar energy had 294 MW of capacity, led by MidAmerican Renewables' 250 MW Topaz Solar Farms expansion in California. Comparatively, only a single new unit of natural gas came online in November 2014.
The November totals add to the number of monthly ‘wins’ by renewable energy sources this year, according to nonprofit SUN DAY Campaign.
November marked the ninth time in the past 11 months that renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, hydropower, biomass and geothermal, accounted for the majority of new U.S. electrical generation brought into service. Natural gas led in new generation for the months of April and August, notes Ken Bossong, executive director.
Of the 10,926 MW of new generating capacity from all renewable sources installed since Jan. 1, 2014, wind accounted for 23.11%, followed by solar (20.16%), biomass (2.58%), hydropower (1.29%) and geothermal (0.29%).
In total, renewables have provided 47.43% of new U.S. electrical generating capacity thus far in 2014. The balance came from natural gas (50.46%), coal (0.97%), nuclear (0.65%), oil (0.43%) and ‘other’ (0.06%).
Therefore, notes the nonprofit, new capacity from renewable energy sources in 2014 is 49 times that from coal, 73 times that from nuclear and 110 times that from oil.
‘With only one month left in 2014, it has become a horse race between natural gas and renewable energy as to which will dominate new electrical generation for the year,’ says Bossong. ‘Regardless of the winner, it is apparent that coal, oil and nuclear will be left behind in the dust.’