Renewables = 69% of New US Electricity Capacity in 2015

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Using data from FERC and rooftop solar power estimates of my own*, it seems that 69% of newly installed US electricity generation capacity was from renewable energy power plants, with 67% from solar and wind power. In the month of December, 100% of new power capacity came from wind and solar projects.

New US Electricity 2015 Dec

Meanwhile, total installed coal power capacity declined from 326.6 GW at the end of 2014 to 305.05 GW at the end of 2015. In other words, net, 21.55 GW of coal power capacity were taken offline in 2015.

Unfortunately, natural gas (which may be much cleaner than coal, but that is up for debate) power capacity grew from 492.97 GW to 500.71 GW. In other words, it saw nearly 8 GW of additional capacity (net).

To compare to renewables on the whole, that segment grew by 23.5 GW, from 200.94 to 224.43 GW. Solar and wind alone grew by about 21 GW, from 81.45 GW to 102.58 GW, based on my estimates. That’s approximately the change in coal capacity.

New US Electricity 2015

The top sources of new power capacity in 2015 (in MWac) were as follows:

  1. Wind Power (40.9%) — 7977
  2. Natural Gas (30.5%) — 5942
  3. Solar Power (25.9%) — 5047

Those three sources accounted for over 97% of new power capacity.

“If it weren’t already obvious, the latest FERC data confirm that the era of coal, oil, and nuclear power is rapidly drawing to a close,” noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The future — in fact, the present — has become renewable energy!”

New US Electricity Total

At the end of the day (at the end of the year), renewables still only accounted for 19% of total US electricity generation capacity, and solar + wind 8.7%. So, we have a long way to go. Nonetheless, 69% of new capacity from renewables in the year isn’t really a letdown, even if it does seem like 100% of new capacity should have come from renewables….

Here’s my December and full-year table on capacity installations and total installed capacity across the US:

US Renewable Energy Capacity - December 2015

*Based on SEIA/GTM research projections for 2015 and historical data from NREL.

Last month’s electricity capacity report can be viewed here: “Renewables = 99% of New US Power Capacity in November.”


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Zachary Shahan

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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