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Published on April 20th, 2015 | by Zachary Shahan


Renewable Energy = 98% of New Electricity Generation Capacity in February (US)

April 20th, 2015 by  

Continuing a trend that any regular readers of CleanTechnica have seen very clearly, renewable energy sources dominated new electricity generation capacity additions in the United States in February 2015.

It was actually a quite weak month for utility-scale installations of any sort, which left my estimate of rooftop solar power to take 73% of the pie.

With such a big portion of the pie, an unofficial estimate like this should be taken as such. However, the estimate is based on annual projections from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) that have proven as solid as anything else out there.

If you just looked at the utility-scale side of the equation, renewables still would have accounted for >94% of new electricity generation capacity, with geothermal accounting for 52%, wind 24%, and solar 18%. Natural gas just added 5 megawatts of capacity in February according to FERC.

Looking at January and February together (including my estimates for non-utility-scale solar), renewables = 89% of all new capacity, and natural gas 11%.

Looking at all installed electricity generation capacity on the grid at the end of February, renewables = 17.5%, with 8.5% of that coming from hydropower, 5.6% from wind, 1.6% from solar, 1.4% from biomass, 0.3% from geothermal, and 0.1% from waste heat. We still have a long way to go.

US Renewable Energy Capacity - Feb 2015

Check out more US electricity capacity reports here, and US electricity generation reports here.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • Philip W

    SMA just interpolates from what their inverters are producing. 26GW of Fraunhofer ISE are more likely to me.

  • Nice 😀

  • Shiggity

    45MW of geothermal is impressive.

    The US is also the leader in that, one of the unsung renewable energy stars.

  • John Moore

    A year or so ago, I read that when it came to solar, all the low hanging fruit had been harvested. Any improvements from this point forward were likely to be incremental. I saw a projection of 6%-7% improvements in efficiency, for a 20% reduction in cost three years from then.
    As I now read the articles on this site every day, it seems to me that these estimates were too conservative. And with the improvements in battery storage capabilities, well, it simply boggles the mind. I believe we are much closer to the fulcrum point for EVs, just for example, than the general public has any idea of.
    One day the average Joe is going to be looking for a new car, and go “…wait a minute, this electric car is cheaper, simpler, more reliable, and cheaper to own than a regular car. I guess I’ll get one.”
    As I read about residential solar, I wonder why we ever need bring on another coal fired plant again. Let these people put solar panels on their roofs, and find a way to make it work with the utility companies. Make them adapt to progress instead of battling to hold back the inevitable technological advance.
    It just seems that we are so close. My biggest fear is that fossil fuel interests and government will combine to screw all of this up for years, if not decades. But I hope not.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Australia will certainly never build another coal power plant. The last one in the National Electricity Market, where the bulk of the people live, was built seven years ago. Western Australia, which has a separate grid, built one 5 years ago. The cost of electricity from new coal plants is estimated to be more than twice that of new wind, while rooftop solar outcompetes any source of grid generation.

      But yes, our fossil fuel interests are working hard to screw things up. For example, they had our carbon price removed and have nobbled our Renewable Energy Target. Fortunately they can only delay things. Unfortunately, people will die as a result of this delay.

  • chrisbrandow

    there seems to be a mistake. the table below the interactive graphic shows feb 2015 as having 460MW, instead of 230.

    • Looks like the title is off on the 2nd chart for some reason. Fixing.

      I think everything in the table is fine. The orange columns are for YTD, not February.

  • Matt

    Why the big drop in all from Feb 2014 (~750) to 2015 (~320)? Bad weather? Other solar dropped 50%. Wait a minute Mr Zac! The numbers of 2014 Feb, match exact the table column labeled 2015 YTD. I’m thinking something is labeled wrong here.

    • What are you talking about? The 2nd chart is titled “YTD 2015 New Capacity (MW).” And I swear I didn’t just fix that stupid blunder. 😉

  • Will E

    A nuclear plant is about 1 GW, means Solar peak of 28 nuclear plants.
    My system had today 24 Kwh,

  • Will E

    no more FF nuclear added. for what reason? What is going on?
    Is this the Transition going on?
    In China 5 Gw Solar installed in Q1?
    In Germany 30 billion approval offshore wind?
    Eon, 100 to 15 down, RWE 75 to 25 down.
    times are changing fast.

  • Kyle Field

    Top points for me – 1. no new coal or oil production 2. Solar is now 1.6% of total power generation 😀 3. Water generation…there is a tear in the eco world related to this. Many are rebelling against dams and the hydro they produce because they can have such massive upstream impacts and impact fish’s ability to spawn. For now, it feels like the lesser of two evils, but at 8.5% of total prod, that’s not something we can just cut out and be fine with. Another discussion for another day I suppose. For reference, see the Patagonia sponsored film “Damnation”. (I can write a review and reach out to them for comment if that’s of interest)

    • Solar is now 1.6% of total power generation [capacity].

      Damnation review: Sounds good to me.

    • Offgridman

      No problem agreeing that we don’t need to build any more dams in the US for more hydro production. But we could utilize a lot more of the current infrastructure without causing any more damage. The percentage of dams actually producing power in the US is actually quite small.
      Granted that some of this generation would depend upon seasonal flows, or be small compared to some of our current big hydro production. But since they are already in place, and with the way turbine tech has improved over the past fifty years, it just doesn’t make any sense not to take advantage of some of them as a part of our mix of solutions to fossil fuels.

      • Kyle Field

        I agree that they’re better than fossil fuels and I’m interested to see what the argument is against that to the point where people seem to care more about the fish (“remove the damn dam!”) than the environment (hydro power vs natural gas power generation).

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