- Published: November 22, 2013
- Written by Chris Meehan
Of all the nearly 700 new megawatts of generating capacity that came online in October, 694 of them were renewable, coming from biomass, wind and solar power. In fact, the overwhelming majority of new generation - 504 megawatts - was solar, which accounts for 99.3 percent of all the new generation.
These figures come straight from the Office of Energy Projects Energy Infrastructure Update under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The 12 new solar units that came online accounted for 72.1 percent of all new electric generating capacity in October 2013, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
“This is truly astonishing, not to mention historic, and should serve as a reminder to everyone in Washington and in state capitals that smart public policies—such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS)—are paying huge dividends for America,” wrote SEIA President Rhone Resch in a post about the news.
The largest projects to come online last month were Abengoa’s 280 megawatt Solana Generating Station project in Maricopa County, Ariz. and Southern Company’s 139 megawatt Campo Verde Solar project, located in Imperial County, Calif. The power generated at Campo Verde is delivered via Sunrise Powerlink and sold to San Diego Gas & Electric under a long-term contract.
The statistics contained in FERC's report demonstrate a growing use of renewables throughout the country. In addition, these statistics indicate that other energy generating sources now make up less of the new electricity that's coming online. In fact, earlier this year, renewable energy accounted for 100 percent of all the power that came online in January. And, during the first 10 months of 2013, solar accounted for the highest number of new projects coming online, with a total of 190 new projects, comprising 2.5 gigawatts of new electric generation capacity.
“Solar alone has comprised 20.5 percent of new generating capacity (2,528 MW) thus far this year – more than doubling its 2012 total (1,257 MW),” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. The only energy source to surpass solar is natural gas, which has seen 60 new projects comprising a total of 6.6 gigawatts of new electric generation come online.
“Today, solar is one of the fastest-growing sources of new energy in the United States. More than 30 utility-scale, clean energy solar projects are still under construction,” Resch stated. “There are now more than 9,400 megawatts (MW) of cumulative solar electric capacity installed in the U.S. – enough to power more than 1.5 million American homes – and that number is expected to hit nearly 13,000 MW by the end of this year.”
Speaking of homes, the amount of solar being installed on them has exploded as well. “Since 2000, more than 1,460 MW of residential solar installations have been installed across the country and in 2012 alone, rooftop solar installations nearly doubled the installed capacity added in 2010,” according to a recent piece by Mosaic’s Yoni Binstock.
Renewable energy is also now accounting for a larger percentage of the U.S.’s generating capacity, coming in right around 16 percent. The majority of this energy is still hydroelectric, which comprises roughly 8.3 percent in comparison to solar, which is still a minute .59 percent.