Renewable Energy's High Generating Capacity

FERC Report: Renewable Energy Provides Half of All New Domestic Electric Generating Capacity

January 20, 2013
Manufacturing Group

According to the latest "Energy Infrastructure Update" report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Office of Energy Projects, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) accounted for 49.10% of all new domestic electrical generating capacity installed in the twelve months of 2012 for a total of 12,956MW.  More than a quarter of that new capacity (25.29% - 3,276MW) came on-line in the month of December 2012 alone.

Wind led the way in 2012 with 164 new units totaling 10,689MW, followed by solar with 240 units totaling 1,476MW. Biomass added 100 new units totaling 543MW, while geothermal steam and water each had 13 new units with installed capacities of 149MW and  99MW respectively.

By comparison, for the full 12 months of 2012, new natural gas generation in service totaled 8,746MW (33.15%) followed by coal (4,510MW  -17.09%), nuclear (125MW - 0.47%), and oil (49MW - 0.19%).

New capacity from renewable energy sources in 2012 increased by 51.16% compared to 2011 when those sources added 8,571MW. In 2011, renewables accounted for 39.33% of all new in-service generation capacity.

Renewable sources now account for 15.40% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: 

  • Water: 8.47%
  • Wind: 4.97%
  • Biomass: 1.30%
  • Solar: 0.34%
  • Geothermal: 0.32%. 

This is more than nuclear (9.24%) and oil (3.57%) combined.

“If there were still any lingering doubts about the ability of renewable energy technologies to come on-line quickly and in amounts sufficient to displace fossil fuels and nuclear power, the 2012 numbers have put those doubts to rest,” saysKen Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Not only has renewable energy become a major player in the U.S. electrical generation market, but it has also emerged in 2012 as the reigning champion.”