Wind And Solar Each Beat Natural Gas For New Generating Capacity In January


According to an analysis by the SUN DAY Campaign of newly released data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), new solar and wind generating capacity took the lead over natural gas and all other energy sources as of Jan. 31.

FERC’s “Energy Infrastructure Update” report notes that 18 units of new solar capacity (631 MW) and four units of new wind capacity (519 MW) each beat new natural gas capacity (one unit at 465 MW) in January. No new capacity additions were reported for any other energy sources, says SUN DAY.

FERC’s numbers also reveal that renewables (biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind) now account for 21.23% of total available installed U.S. generating capacity. Five years ago, renewables were 16.24%. Thus, the nation’s renewable energy capacity has been adding, on average, a percentage point each year. (SUN DAY notes that capacity is not the same as actual generation. Capacity factors for nuclear power and fossil fuels tend to be higher than those for most renewables. For calendar year 2018, EIA reported that renewables accounted for a little more than 17.6% of the nation’s total electrical generation – that is, a bit less than their share of installed generating capacity of 21.23%.)

SUN DAY says total wind generating capacity (97.18 GW) is rapidly closing in on that of hydropower (100.33 GW) and seems certain to overtake it sometime this year. Meanwhile, the generating capacity of all renewables combined (254.57 GW) is about to surpass that of coal (264.49 GW) – again, very possibly in 2019.

FERC’s “Energy Infrastructure Update for January 2019” was released on March 12 and can be found here.

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It will be nice when renewables surpass coal in annual generation, then when each one (wind, solar, geothermal) individually surpasses coal in annual generation.

Might not be too long for wind to hit that benchmark in Texas (ERCOT) – in 2018, wind was 19% and coal was 25% for total annual generation.