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Published on February 25th, 2013 | by Joshua S Hill

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All New January US Electrical Generating Capacity Came From Renewable Sources



A new report from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects announced that 1,231 megawatts (MW) of new in-service electrical generating capacity came online in January 2013, and all of it came from a collection of wind, solar, and biomass sources.

The January numbers represent a nearly three-fold increase in new renewable energy capacity compared to the same time last year when new wind, solar, and biomass sources only amounted to 431 MW of new capacity.

Wind accounted for the largest share of the new electrical generating capacity installed this past January, with six new “units” providing 948 MW. Solar came next with 16 units installed totalling 267 MW, and biomass installed 6 new units adding up to 6 MW.

There were absolutely no reports of any new generating capacity for fossil fuel or nuclear power sources.

The report (PDF) notes that renewable sources currently account for 15.66% of the total installed US operating generating capacity:

  • Hydro — 8.50%
  • Wind — 5.17%
  • Biomass — 1.29%
  • Solar — 0.38%
  • Geothermal — 0.32%

On the flipside of the operating generating capacity are fossil fuels and nuclear, which account for the following percentages:

  • Oil — 3.54%
  • Nuclear — 9.23%
  • Coal — 29.04%
  • Natural Gas — 42.37%

With these numbers as they stand, the only way is up, but I can’t help but wonder what impact Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One will have on those numbers in the months to follow. Just last week, the developers of that project reported that they had “achieved a peak generating capacity of 100 megawatts (MW) connected to the electrical grid.”

But that’s only half of the end goal. When construction is completed later this year, the ranch, located in northern Los Angeles County, will have a generating capacity of 230 MW.

Big solar farms like these are a big part of the growth of renewables over the past few years. A new report from analyst firm Wiki-Solar has concluded that “by the end of February utility-scale solar farms will have reached 12.2 GW of capacity across 488 installations, a figure almost double that of 12 months ago.”

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.   I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.



  • Otis11

    Well that’s great news! Still a long way to go, but renewables are making progress.

    If we could just shut down that coal…

  • Alex S

    I think there’s a typo in the first paragraph – should be “2013″ instead of “2012″

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Thanks.

  • Rick

    whether you like nuclear or not, it’s not a fossil fuel.

    • Alex S

      while it is not a “fossil”, it is usually referred to as a “fossil fuel” in the sense that it is a non-renewable fuel. The only difference is it’s origin, from dead stars rather than dead plants – I will agree tho that the byproducts are different (radiation instead of organic pollution) but it is still a non-renewable ground based fuel and that’s why it’s lumped in with other fossil fuels.

      • Rick

        Alex,

        Perhaps you “usually” refer to nuclear as a fossil fuel but this doesn’t really make the terminology correct.  Fossil fuels are formed from organic mater.  Nuclear (and geothermal) power are generated from radioactive decay of inorganic elements.
        I am not arguing the merits of nuclear power, merely attempting to correct your definition in what I believed to be a technical blog.  Obviously, you are free to continue using any definition you please.  :-)

        • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

          I think it was simply a slip by the author. It’s corrected.

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