Published on November 27th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor


Renewable Energy Provided 99% Of All New Electricity Capacity In October

November 27th, 2013 by  

Image Credit: Solar panel, wind turbine & globe via Shutterstock

By The SUN DAY Campaign

Washington DC – According to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects, solar, biomass, and wind “units” provided 694 MW of new electrical generating capacity last month or 99.3% of all new generation placed in-service (the balance of 5 MW was provided by oil.) Twelve new solar units accounted for 504 MW or 72.1% of all new electrical generating capacity in October 2013 followed by four biomass units (124 MW – 17.7%) and two wind units (66 MW – 9.4%).

For the first ten months of 2013, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) have accounted for nearly a third (32.8%) of all new electrical generating capacity. That is more than that provided thus far this year by coal (1,543 MW – 12.5%), oil (36 MW – 0.3%), and nuclear power (0 MW – 0.0%) combined. Solar alone comprises 20.5% of new generating capacity (2,528 MW) thus far this year – more than doubling its 2012 total (1,257 MW). However, natural gas has dominated 2013 thus far with 6,625 MW of new capacity (53.7%).

For the first ten months of 2013, compared to the same period in 2012, new capacity from all sources has declined by 27.5% (from 17,008 MW to 12,327 MW).

Renewable sources now account for nearly 16% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: water – 8.30%, wind – 5.21%, biomass – 1.32%, solar – 0.59%, and geothermal steam – 0.33%.* This is more than nuclear (9.22%) and oil (4.06%) combined.

A second new federal study, the latest issue of “Electric Power Monthly” by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (with data through September 30, 2013), notes that renewable energy sources accounted for 12.95% net electrical generation for the first three-quarters of 2013 (hydropower – 6.90%, wind – 4.03%, wood + biomass – 1.40%, geothermal – 0.41%, solar – 0.21%). This represents an increase of 5.22% compared to the same period in 2012 with non-hydro renewables combined growing by 15.9% (solar – 91.9%, wind – 21.7%, geothermal – 1.2%, wood + biomass – 0.4%). By comparison electrical generation from all sources (i.e., including fossil fuels and nuclear power) dipped by 0.8%.

“As the threats posed by climate change grow increasingly more dire, renewable energy sources have clearly become a viable alternative to fossil fuels as well as nuclear power,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Accordingly, efforts by some at the state and national levels to roll back support for these sources are clearly misguided.”


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released its most recent 5-page “Energy Infrastructure Update,” with data through October 31, 2013, on November 20, 2013. See the tables titled “New Generation In-Service (New Build and Expansion)” and “Total Installed Operating Generating Capacity” at

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released its most recent “Electric Power Monthly” with data through September 30, 2013 on November 20, 2013; see: The relevant charts are Tables 1.1, 1.1.A, ES1.A, and ES1.B.


* Note that generating capacity is not the same as actual generation. As stated, actual net electrical generation from renewable energy sources in the United States now totals nearly 13%.
The SUN DAY Campaign is a non-profit research and educational organization founded in 1993 to promote sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels.


Image Credit: Solar panel, wind turbine & globe via Shutterstock

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  • Doug

    Did this FERC calculation include rooftop solar? It states 12 new solar units – seems like this is big projects only.

  • John Storm

    Why are we building new capacity in the face of shrinking electricity demand?

    • A Real Libertarian

      Because old planets are being retired?

      And we need to get off fossil fuels?

      • Bob_Wallace

        You’re turn.

        Planets/plants – ;o)

        (The you’re was intentional.)

    • Bob_Wallace

      Because we’re also in the process of closing about 150 coal plants and several nuclear reactors.

      • Doug

        Yes. This is the biggest reason.

    • Doug

      Demand can shrink nationally and simultaneously increase at the local or regional level. Population and industry move around, but we don’t have a national grid to move electricity around.

    • disqus_ufTgQzaR8q

      The US has built 9,981.5 MW of new capacity and retired 11,118.4 MW of elecricity generation in the first 10 months of 2013 according to the EIA. About 3500 MW of nuclear and 3800 of coal were among the retired units. Although the previous two years more capacity was added than was retired.

      • Bob_Wallace

        The retired coal and nuclear had capacity factors in the 80% to 90% range. The wind added was in the 40% to 50% range and the solar in the 17% to 20% range.

  • matthew

    Nuclear doesn’t produce co2. Biomass certainly does so what is more likely to end global warming. We should be building up all energy sources that get us away from co2.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Biomass simply recycles carbon already above ground.

      Nuclear would be a great way to replace fossil fuels if it we’re so expensive, dangerous and took so long to bring on line.

      If we didn’t have renewables then nuclear would make sense….

      • A Real Libertarian


        • Bob_Wallace

          I’d like to claim poetic license.

          But I’ll have to cop to poor proofreading.

      • John Storm

        Renewables can only replace baseload nuclear when paired with gas or coal. (Hydro is too scarce in most part of the country)

        Which do you prefer? Gas or coal?

        • Bob_Wallace

          That’s a tired, old, worn out argument, John. Time to shoot it in the head and put it out of its misery.

          Those of us who are concerned about the climate and the economy prefer renewables and storage.

        • Doug

          Baseload is becoming irrelevant as new generators can generate on demand, rather than requiring 24-48 hours to fire up the boilers. Any coal or natural gas plant that is incapable of starting up or ramping down within 15-30 min will be obsolete within the decade.

    • Doug

      Nuclear is terribly expensive. We really should stop building more nukes and economically phase out existing nukes over the next 20-30 years. It’s not a question of “if”, it’s “when” will we retire the last nuclear plants.

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