Wind and solar power have dominated new power capacity additions in 2021. They’ve also been at the forefront of power capacity growth in the United States in the past three years.
New Power Capacity in USA
The latest installation data come from October 2021, which was, incidentally, a rare month in which fossil gas (aka “natural gas”) led the show. Such months have been a very uncommon occurrence in the past few years, but especially in the past year. In 2021, wind and solar power have absolutely dominated new power capacity additions, accounting for a whopping 85.9% of new US power capacity (see chart above). That was despite fossil gas getting 51.1% share of the market in October (see chart below).
Actually, aside from wind power plants, solar power plants, and fossil gas power plants, no other source of power production was added to the US electricity grid (which is, technically, a few grids) in October 2021. Other sources were essentially rounding errors in the first 10 months of the year as well, with hydropower, geothermal power, biomass, and oil accounting for a combined 0.4% of new power capacity in the country.
Looking at the big boys, large-scale solar accounted for 37.2% of new US power capacity in the first 10 months of 2021, wind power accounted for 33.2%, small-scale solar accounted for 15.5%, and fossil gas accounted for 13.7%. (Note that this is an imperfect estimate since utility-scale power plant data come from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) while small-scale solar power additions are estimated based on US Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) forecasts and data for Q3 2021).
That covers October and January–October 2021. Let’s now look at what the trends have been since 2019, and also look at total installed power capacity in the United States.
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