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Renewable Energy = 90% Of New US Electricity Generation Capacity In January (Exclusive)

US electricity capacity January 2015Based on data from FERC and educated “other solar” (essentially rooftop solar) estimates from CleanTechnica, we’ve found that 90% of new electricity generation capacity added in the United States in January 2015 came from renewable energy sources. To be more precise, 90% came from solar and wind energy.

The largest source of new capacity came from wind energy (54.7%), rooftop solar was second (26.7%), natural gas was third (10.5%), and utility-scale solar PV brought the rest (8.1%).

Renewables did very well in January 2014 as well. Solar and wind accounted for 94%, while all renewables accounted for 99.9%.

For all of 2014, solar and wind energy accounted for 55% of new US electricity generation capacity, while all renewables together accounted for 57% of new US electricity generation capacity. Natural gas accounted for 42%, coal accounted for 0.6%, nuclear for 0.4%, and oil for 0.3%.

Of course, it’s great to see renewables accounting for the majority of electricity generation capacity growth. Comparing new capacity to cumulative installed capacity (essentially, every power plant in the US that can produce electricity), a couple of key points come out:

  • Renewables are still a small portion of our electricity mix. (Wind = 5.6% and solar = 1.4%, together coming to 7%. All renewables combined = 17.2%.)
  • The trend is very clearly toward renewables.

US Renewable Energy Capacity - Jan 2015


Those are the key findings this month, imho. However, since I am adding rooftop solar estimates to the FERC numbers, some of you probably want to know the assumptions I’m making. In bullet-point format, here are some key things to know:

  • GTM Research projects that 8100 MW of solar PV will be added in the US in 2015.
  • It estimates that 59% of that will be from utility-scale PV, leaving the remaining 41% for “other solar” (commercial + residential, to be precise), which would mean 3321 MW of .
  • However, those numbers are in DC (not AC, which is what FERC reports). There is no across-the-board calculation for converting DC to AC power capacity. GTM Research uses different conversion rates for solar power plants of different sizes (as it should, of course). I am using the conversion rate it uses for solar PV power plants 10 MWac or smaller. This is still quite crude, given that there’s a big difference between a 10 MWac power plant and a 50 kWac power plant, but it is what it is. After converting the annual estimate, I am splitting it up by month of the year, but not evenly — I’m throwing in some general assumptions regarding the rooftop solar installation trend throughout the year.
  • Hopefully the results are very close to reality.
  • For total (cumulative) solar PV capacity, I have end-of-year figures from GTM Research and am adding on the monthly totals from FERC for utility-scale solar and rooftop solar estimates for “other solar.”

Related Stories:

US Solar PV Installations Surpassed 6 GW In 2014 (Charts)

Wind Energy Was Largest Source Of New US Electricity In 2014

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Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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