WASHINGTON, D.C. — According to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects, all new U.S. electrical generating capacity put into service in July came from renewable energy sources: 379 megawatts (MW) of wind, 21 MW of solar, and 5 MW of hydropower.
For the first seven months of 2014, renewables have accounted for more than half (53.8 percent) of the 4,758 MW of new U.S. electrical capacity that has come on line with solar (25.8 percent) and wind (25.1 percent) each accounting for more than a quarter of the total. In addition, biomass provided 1.8 percent, geothermal 0.7 percent, and hydropower 0.4 percent.
As for the balance, natural gas accounted for 45.9 percent while a small fraction (0.3 percent) came from oil and “other” combined. There has been no new electrical generating capacity from either coal or nuclear thus far in 2014.
Renewable energy sources now account for 16.3 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: hydro – 8.57 percent, wind – 5.26 percent, biomass – 1.37 percent, solar – 0.75 percent, and geothermal steam – 0.33 percent. Note that generating capacity is not the same as actual generation. Generation per MW of capacity for renewables is often lower than that for fossil fuels and nuclear power. Actual net electrical generation from renewable energy sources in the United States now totals about 14 percent of total U.S. electrical production according to the most recent data (i.e., as of May 2014) provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
This is not the first time in recent years that all new electrical generating capacity for a given month has come from renewable energy sources. And it is likely to become an ever more frequent occurrence in the months and years ahead.
Lead image: Wind and boats via Shutterstock