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Wind, Solar, Biomass Provide All New US Electrical Generating Capacity in January 2013

According to the latest "Energy Infrastructure Update" report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Office of Energy Projects, 1,231 MW of new in-service electrical generating capacity came on line in the United States in January 2013 — all from wind, solar, and biomass sources.

This represents a nearly three-fold increase in new renewable energy generating capacity compared to the same month in 2012 when wind, solar, and biomass provided 431 MW of new capacity.

In January 2013, wind accounted for the largest share of the new capacity with six new "units" providing 958 MW followed by 16 units of solar (267 MW), and 6 units of biomass (6 MW). No new generating capacity was reported for any fossil fuel (i.e., natural gas, coal, oil) or nuclear power sources.

Renewable sources now account for 15.66 percent of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: hydro - 8.50 percent, wind - 5.17 percent, biomass - 1.29 percent, solar - 0.38 percent, and geothermal - 0.32 percent.* 

By comparison, oil accounts for 3.54% of total operating generating capacity, nuclear for 9.23 percent, coal for 29.04 percent, and natural gas for 42.37 percent.

Once again, renewable energy sources have dominated the new electrical generation market. 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.

*Note: Generating capacity is not the same as actual generation. Actual net electrical generation from renewable energy sources in the United States now totals about 13% according to data provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Lead image: Green skyline via Shutterstock

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