New Hampshire, USA -- The U.S. brought online nearly 700 MW of new electricity generation in October, and practically all of it was large-scale solar energy, according to data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Office of Energy Projects.
Out of a total 699 MW of new build and expansions that FERC tracked, 504 MW of that came from 12 solar projects. Interestingly they're spread all over the country, and most have long-term PPAs in hand:
Besides a whole bunch of solar, two wind projects and four biomass projects came online during the month of October, contributing 66 MW and 124 MW respectively.
For the 10 months through October, 12.3 GW of new installed capacity has been brought online; 2.5 GW of that solar, roughly 1 GW wind, 360 MW biomass, and 117 MW of hydro, says FERC. Meanwhile, about 6.6 GW of natural gas was brought online, plus 1.5 GW of coal.
Compared with FERC's statistics from a year ago, it's clear that larger solar projects are really ramping up in the U.S. From Jan-Oct. of this year 190 solar projects came online with 2.5 GW installed generating capacity; through the same period last year there were many more projects but with less than half that amount (260 projects, 1.25 GW). Also note the additions of wind energy have slowed to a trickle: roughly 1 GW through October of this year across 11 projects, compared with 107 projects and 6.2 GW from Jan-Oct. 2012, though activity seems to be picking up in these last couple of months.
Still, solar energy's slice of total generating installed capacity is just a drop in the bucket for the nation's overall profile, roughly 0.6 percent (6.79 GW) out of a total 1,158 GW, lagging well behind wind (60.29 GW, 5.21 percent) and biomass (15.33 GW, 1.32 percent), while geothermal keeps steady at 3.79 GW/ 0.33 percent. All the renewable sectors together minus hydro tally up to about 88 GW, or 7.6 percent of the U.S.' total installed operating generating capacity; adding hydro more than doubles that to 184 GW and roughly 16 percent.
Lead image: US flag overlaid onto wind generators and solar panels, via Shutterstock