The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects has released its latest “Energy Infrastructure Update,” and finds that renewable energy sources including biomass, geothermal, solar, water, and wind, accounted by 49.10 percent of all new domestic electrical generating capacity installed during 2012. The total was 12,956 MW and more than a quarter of that new capacity, or 3,276 MW, came online during December 2012 alone.
Wind power led the way in 2012 with 164 new “units” totaling 10,689 MW installed. Solar power followed with 240 units totaling 1,476 MW installed. Biomass added 100 new units totaling 543 MW while geothermal steam and water each had 13 new units with installed capacities of 149 MW and 99 MW respectively. By comparison, during 2012, new natural gas generation in service totaled 8,746 MW (33.15%) followed by coal (4,510 MW -17.09%), nuclear (125 MW – 0.47%), and oil (49 MW – 0.19%).
New capacity from renewable energy sources in 2012 increased by 51.16 percent compared to 2011 when those sources added 8,571 MW. In 2011, renewables accounted for 39.33 percent of all new in-service generation capacity. Renewable sources now account for 15.40 percent of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: water – 8.47 percent, wind – 4.97 percent, biomass – 1.30 percent, solar – 0.34 percent, and geothermal – 0.32 percent. 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,” said Ken 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.”