Not including rooftop solar power, solar PV accounted for 36.5% of new US electricity generation capacity in the first quarter of 2021. (Note that we are talking about new power capacity in this article, not electricity generation itself.) Another 63.2% of new US electricity generation capacity came from new wind power plants. Those two combine for 99.7% of new US power capacity. Not that it really matters at such a low percentage, but another 0.1% came from hydropower and 0.2% came from natural gas.
In March, 100% of new power capacity came from solar and wind power.
In terms of actual capacity increases, 477 megawatts (MW) of solar and wind were added in March, and 4625 MW were added in January–March.
Despite the high percentage of new power capacity, the 2021 increase in the first quarter was well below the Q1 2020 and Q1 2019 increases (8303 MW and 6084 MW, respectively). In those time periods, though, the percentage of overall power capacity increases were 51% and 47.6%, respectively. So, clearly, a positive shift is underway.
Looking at overall installed power capacity (not just power capacity additions), solar and wind have gone from 11.4% in Q1 2019 to 12.7% in Q1 2020 to 14.8% in Q1 2021. Progress.
As far as all renewables combined, the progression is: 21.6% in Q1 2019, 22.8% in Q1 2020, 24.7% in Q1 2021.
The specific power plant additions across US electricity grids in the month of March were:
- Frontier Windpower II LLC’s 351.8 MW Frontier Windpower Expansion in Kay County, OK is online. The power generated is sold to City of Springfield MO under long-term contract.
- Wapello Solar LLC’s 100.0 MW Wapello Solar Project in Louisa County, IA is online. The power generated is sold to Central Iowa Power Coop. under long-term contract.
- Solar Star Prime 2 LLC’s 7.0 MW Solar Star Prime 2 Project in Richmond County, NY is online.
In actuality, rooftop solar power might have added more US power capacity than the three projects above all combined in March. However, we don’t have data on that yet.
Another other thoughts on these figures?
Shortly, I will be publishing our March and Q1 2021 US electricity generation report. The electricity generation numbers will look much less rosy than the capacity numbers above.
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