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Solar + Wind = 74% of New US Electricity Capacity January–May 2015 (Exclusive)

US renewable energy electricity capacity May 2015Wind power and solar power are increasingly the most cost-competitive options for new electricity generation, and the installation numbers for the first 5 months of 2015 are just another way of showing that.

Based on data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and SEIA/GTM Research, I’ve just produced my latest CleanTechnica report on the US electricity generation capacity market. The biggest highlight, as you can see in the title, is that 74% of new US electricity generation capacity added in January–May of 2015 came from wind and solar power. Renewables as a whole accounted for 75% of new electricity generation capacity.

In May 2015, renewables (entirely solar and wind power) accounted for 49% of new electricity generation capacity, down a bit fro previous months due to a large influx of new natural gas power capacity.

US Renewable Energy Capacity - May 2015

While solar and wind are rocking it in 2015, it’s important to note that they still just represent 7.6% of all US electricity generation capacity, and their percentage of electricity generation is even lower (report forthcoming now published). Overall, all renewables now account for 18% of US electricity generation capacity.

There are various reasons why wind and solar power are dominating new US electricity generation capacity, but the big one is that they are often the cheapest option. For more on that topic, see:

Solar & Wind Power Prices Often Lower Than Fossil Fuel Power Prices

World’s Cheapest Solar Power Lands In Austin, Texas — Under 4¢/kWh! (Sort Of)

Wind Energy Costs Super Low, Despite Heartland Shenanigans (Chart & Graphs)


Note that my rooftop solar power numbers for January through March were revised a bit after GTM Research and SEIA released their latest quarterly US Solar Market Insight report. Informed estimates for April and May rooftop solar power additions were then added as well. (*Nuts and bolts of some of the work required to create this report are below.)

As far as I know, I’m the only one who creates a comprehensive electricity generation capacity report like this for the entire United States. I started doing so because FERC and others were reporting utility-scale solar capacity in the context of all electricity generation capacity as if it were all solar power. With the rooftop solar market a substantial part of the solar market, and growing fast, I felt a need to fill the gaps. I look forward to seeing where things stand at the half-year mark! Chime in below to carry on the conversation.

*Utility-scale solar capacity data is retrieved from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), while GTM Research is kind enough to share rooftop as well as utility-scale data. However, differently sized installations are used in FERC’s and GTM Research’s utility-scale solar categories, and FERC uses MWac while GTM Research uses MWdc. So, I first convert GTM Research’s numbers to MWac (using different rules of thumb for rooftop versus utility-scale solar), then subtract the FERC total from that total to come up with the rooftop solar number. There are several reasons why I do it like this, but I’ll leave the explanation at that unless you want to know more.

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Written By

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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