The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has published figures showing that solar and wind together provided a majority of new capacity during the first quarter of 2017.
Published this week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Energy Infrastructure Update for March (PDF) shows that, across the first three months of the year, solar and wind installed 2,418 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity — 1,479 megawatts (MW) for wind and 939 MW for solar. Interestingly, the American Wind Energy Association published its first quarter figures this week as well, and revealed that the wind industry installed 2,000 MW of new capacity, though where the discrepancy lies between the two figures is uncertain.
The US Energy Information Administration also joined the party, revealing that wind turbines accounted for 8% of all operating electric generating capacity in the US during 2016. Additionally, wind energy added not only more than any other renewable energy technology in 2016, but accounted for more than a third of the nearly 200 GW of new utility-scale electricity generating capacity added since 2007.
While it is the US renewable energy industry’s habit to always highlight the figures of wind and solar together, natural gas was actually the leading new energy source for both the month of March and the first quarter. However, when you take wind and solar together it does fall marginally short for the first quarter (though not for March).
According to FERC, this means that natural gas’ total percentage of US energy capacity is up to 43.21%, followed by coal at 24.25%, which continues the respective trends for both energy sources.
Wind accounts for 7.12% of the country’s total energy capacity, while solar accounts for 2.17%. Renewable sources as a single source, including biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind, now account for 19.51% of the country’s cumulative total capacity.
“The Trump Administration’s efforts to reboot coal and expand oil drilling continue to be proven wrong-headed in light of the latest FERC data,” noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Once more, renewables — led by wind and solar — have proven themselves to be the energy sources making America great again.”
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