Following up on CleanTechnica‘s latest “US Electricity Generation Report,” here’s our latest “US Electricity Capacity Report.” The story in October is what it has been on numerous occasions in the past year — renewable energy accounted for 100% of new electricity generation capacity additions. Wind and solar accounted for 98% and biomass filled in the other 2%.
For the year through October, solar and wind accounted for 67% of all new power capacity in the US, and renewables together accounted for 70%, according to data from FERC.
In other words, if (in a very hypothetical world) construction of United States power infrastructure began on January 1, 2015, then 70% of the country’s power capacity from grid-connected power plants would be coming from renewables. What a world that would be!!
The unfortunate thing is that it takes a long time to transition the massive US power infrastructure network, and that network was actually created with dirty fossil fuel and nuclear power plants. Just has ~13% of our electricity comes from renewables in 2015.
But change has to start somewhere, and it’s exciting to see that change is afoot in the US electricity market. Fossils are out and cleantech is in… for the most part, that is. As you can also see when looking at the table below or charts above, 29% of new power capacity in 2015 has come from natural gas. If we are going to jump to 20%, 30%, 50%, and 70% of electricity coming from renewables “soon,” then we need to stop installing natural gas power plants.
The good news is that solar and wind are beginning to come in cheaper than natural gas, which is helping renewables to win contracts with utilities that they couldn’t win a few years ago. (Also see: Wind & Solar Now Cheaper Than Fossils & Nuclear and Solar & Wind Power Prices Often Lower Than Fossil Fuel Power Prices.)
Questions for the near future are: Will renewables stay above 70% of new US power capacity in 2015? What will the story be in 2016? When will cumulative US renewable power capacity pass 20%? When will it pass 30%? And when will we have enough renewable power capacity to get 30% of our electricity from renewables?
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