Renewable energy breaks new record in the U.S

By Editor


Renewable energy, which includes biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind accounted for 63.85 percent of the 16,485 megawatts (MW) of new electrical generation placed in service in the U.S during 2015.

The findings are based on the recently released “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects.

According to the report, 69 new “units” of wind accounted for 7,977 MW of new generating capacity – or nearly half (48.39 percent) of all new capacity for the year. That is a third more than the 5,942 MW of new capacity provided by 50 units of natural gas.

Among the other renewable sources, solar placed second with 2,042 MW (238 units) followed by biomass with 305 MW (26 units), hydropower with 153 MW (21 units), and geothermal steam with 48 MW (2 units).

FERC reported no new capacity at all for the year from nuclear power and just 15 MW from ten units of oil and only 3 MW from a single new unit of coal. Thus, new capacity from renewable energy sources during 2015 is more than 700 times greater than that from oil and over 3,500 times greater than that from coal.

Renewable energy sources now account for 17.83 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: water – 8.56 percent, wind – 6.31 percent, biomass – 1.43 percent, solar – 1.20 percent, and geothermal steam – 0.33 percent. The share of total installed capacity from non-hydro renewables (9.27 percent) now exceeds that from conventional hydropower (8.56 percent).

In December 2010 when FERC issued its very first “Energy Infrastructure Update,” renewable sources accounted for only 13.71 percent of total installed operating generation capacity. Over the past five years, solar’s share has increased 12-fold (1.20 percent vs. 0.10 percent) while that from wind has nearly doubled (6.31 percent vs. 3.40 percent). During the same period, coal’s share of the nation’s generating capacity plummeted from 30.37 percent to 26.16 percent.

Finally, for the first time, installed electrical capacity from non-hydro renewables (108.34 GW) has now eclipsed that of nuclear power (107.03 GW).

Rajani Baburajan

[email protected]



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