Renewable Energy Beats Natural Gas for New Capacity in 2014

It was a close race throughout the year, but in the end new generating capacity from renewable sources beat out new natural gas capacity by 1.16 percent in 2014.

Renewable sources provide nearly half of all new generating capacity in 2014

Of the 49.81 percent of new capacity from renewable energy, more than one-quarter, or 26.52 percent, came from wind energy while solar power provided another 20.40 percent of the total. Other renewable energy sources, including biomass, geothermal and hydropower contributed an additional 2.89 percent.

Natural gas accounted for 48.65 percent of new generating capacity for 2014, or 7,485 megawatts (MW), just a slight gain from the 7,378 MW brought online in 2013. Renewable capacity jumped 12.08 percent from 6,837 MW in 2013 to 7,663 MW last year, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's latest Energy Infrastructure Updatereport.

One coal plant came online last year, for a total of 106 MW, while an upgrade to a nuclear facility added an additional 71 MW. Five small "units" of oil generation totaled 47 MW of new capacity.

New capacity from renewable energy sources in 2014 was 34 times that from coal, oil and nuclear combined - or 72 times that from coal, 108 times that from nuclear, and 163 times that from oil.

Renewable energy now contributes 16.63 percent of total installed generating capacity in the United States, more than oil and nuclear combined.

"Can there any longer be doubt about the emerging trends in new U.S. electrical capacity?" noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. "Coal, oil, and nuclear have become historical relics and it is now a race between renewable sources and natural gas with renewables taking the lead."

Image credit: Mugley, courtesy flickr

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