The latest Energy Infrastructure Update released yesterday by the Office of Energy Projects at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reports that the US had 1,231 megawatts (MW) of new in-service generating capacity come online in January of 2013 - all of it from renewable sources including wind, solar and biomass. The new capacity for January represents a three-fold increase from the 431 MW of new renewable generating capacity that came online in January of 2012.
Wind energy led the pack with six new units providing 958 MW, followed by 16 new solar units generating 267 MW of electricity and six new biomass units for 6 MW of new generation. Nuclear, hydro and all fossil fuel sources, including coal, oil, and natural gas offered no new electrical generating capacity last month.
Renewable continue their strong growth
Most generating capacity still comes from coal and natural gas, contributing 29.04 percent and 42.37 percent respectively. Generation from oil contributes only 3.54 percent and nuclear provides 9.23 percent of total capacity in the US.
But renewable sources continue to enjoy strong growth, now accounting for 15.66 percent of total installed U.S. generating capacity. Broken into their aggregate parts, hydro provides 8.50 percent of total capacity, wind 5.17 percent, biomass 1.29 percent, solar 0.38 percent, and geothermal with 0.32 percent. "Generating capacity" is not the same as actual generation. Actual net generation from all renewable sources now totals approximately 13 percent, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
The trend is clear says Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY campaign:
“Once again, renewable energy sources have dominated the new electrical generation market,” said Bossong, “And once again, their rapid expansion demonstrates that the U.S. can meet its future energy needs without resorting to dirtier sources such as nuclear power or the Keystone XL pipeline”
The SUN DAY Campaign is a non-profit research and educational organization founded in 1993 to promote sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels.
Image credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory, courtesy flckr