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Published on December 23rd, 2014 | by Joshua S Hill


Wind & Solar = 77% Of New US Electricity Generating Capacity In November (Exclusive)

December 23rd, 2014 by  

Editor’s Note: Upon repeated reader request and my own interest in seeing more accurate numbers, I have included an estimate of non-utility-scale solar (i.e., residential and commercial solar) in the numbers below. I will do this from here on out. Assumptions* and sources for these estimates are at the end of this article. If you think you’ve got better assumptions for me, let me know in the comments so that future months can be even better. Given the amount of original work that goes into these reports, they are filed in our “CleanTechnica Reports” category. Thank you for your past and future support getting the word out about this useful information!

The United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects released its monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” on Tuesday, and the big winners from the month of November seem to be wind and solar, which combined added up to over 70% of all new electrical generating capacity placed into service during the month. If you add in our estimate for non-utility-scale solar, the market share of solar and wind rises to 77%.

US Electricity Capacity Update Nov

And as Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign, says, this is a good thing:

“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. Regardless of the winner, it is apparent that coal, oil, and nuclear will be left behind in the dust.”

As individual generating technologies, natural gas will walk away the winner this year — of that there is no doubt. As can be seen in the chart and table below, natural gas has already installed 5,513 MW so far this year, while wind and solar have only reached 2,525 MW and 3,679 MW (including our non-FERC estimate).

US Electricity Capacity Update Nov YTD

Nevertheless, the signs are good for renewable energy, in particular wind and solar, in comparison to traditional champions like coal, oil, and nuclear.

With the estimate for non-utility-scale solar factored in, wind and solar accounted for 50% of new electricity generation capacity January–November 2014.

Three separate wind projects came online in November across the country. Stella Wind Farm’s 182 MW Panhandle Wind Farm Phase II expansion project located in Carson County, Texas, was brought online, following on from the 218 MW Phase I coming online in July of this year, bringing Panhandle Wind up to 400 MW total capacity.

In Murray County, Oklahoma, Origin Wind Energy’s 150 MW Origin Wind Energy Project came online, while the 20 MW Antelope West Solar Farm in Los Angeles County, California, also came online in November.

In addition to the 333 MW of new wind that came online in November, 14 new utility-scale solar projects also came online, totaling 294 MW, including the 250 MW expansion to MidAmerican Renewables’ Topaz Solar Farm in San Luis Obispo County, California.

Total generation capacity as of the end of November sees natural gas well ahead of its nearest rival, coal, with wind and solar well down the list.

US electricity capacity TOTAL Nov 2014

US Renewable Energy Capacity - Nov 2014 - Table

Editor’s Note: Notice that, with non-utility-scale solar factored in, solar has passed the big 1% milestone and is actually close to 2% of total US electricity generation capacity!

See reports from previous months:

⅔ of New US Electricity Capacity Was From Wind In October

Renewable Energy = 68% of New Electricity Capacity In September

See our recent electricity generation reports as well:

Solar PV Generation Doubles (Monthly US Electricity Generation Report)

Renewable Energy = 10% of US Electricity Generation In August

All images by CleanTechnica (CC BY-SA 4.0 license)

*Assumptions: Based off of GTM Research & SEIA reports for Q3 2014 and all of 2013, I’ve estimated non-utility-scale solar to be 67% of utility-scale solar in November, for the year through November, and for the same period in 2013. For total non-utility-scale solar power capacity in the US, I’ve put the estimate just slightly below utility-scale solar. For future reports, I will reach out to GTM Research and SEIA to see if I can get more exact historical figures than are publicly available and perhaps also better estimates for the present and future. In the meantime, please send any feedback and suggestions for improvement in the comments below or via email/Google+.

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.

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