New Renewable Energy Sources Additions Exceed FERC Projections by Over 50%

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According to the data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), renewable energy sources supplied about two-thirds of new utility-scale power capacity. Even so, this addition occurs just in the first quarter of this year.

New utility-scale solar capacity was 2,530 MW or 39.56% of the total. Similarly, the wind capacity was 1,475 MW or 23.06% of the total. While the hydropower and biomass addition to the utility-scale was 100-MW and 29-MW respectively. The proportion for new natural gas capacity was 2,259 MW (35.32) %. There were no new capacity additions for coal, nuclear power, or geothermal energy.

During March, the contribution of solar and wind energy to new capacity additions was maximum. Specifically, the addition of a total of 491 MW was by solar projects and 409 MW by wind projects. These included notable installations such as the Seven Cowboy Wind Project (297.3 MW) in Washita County, Oklahoma, and the Deerfield Wind Energy II Project (112 MW) in Huron County, Michigan. Additionally, the Chaparral Solar Project (102 MW) in Kern County, California, the Skyhawk Solar Project (100 MW) in Obion County, Tennessee, and the Crossett Solar Project (100 MW) in Ashley County, Arkansas, also played their part.

What is the Status of the Growth of Renewable Energy Sources in the U.S.? 

The growth of renewable energy in the U.S. has exceeded the expectations of FERC by a significant margin. In March 2020, renewables accounted for only 22.74% of the total generating capacity. FERC had projected a “high probability” addition of 24,083 MW from solar energy three years before. However, the actual growth reached 39,470 MW, surpassing the forecast. Similarly, FERC had anticipated a net increase of 26,867 MW from wind energy. But the actual expansion amounted to 38,550 MW. In total, the combined new capacity additions from solar and wind energy over the past three years reached 78,020 MW. This surpasses FERC’s expectations by 53.13%. Thus, demonstrating a much faster rate of growth in the share of renewable energy sources in the country’s generating capacity than previously anticipated by FERC.

According to FERC’s latest forecast, over the next three years, there is an expected addition of 77,594 MW of new solar capacity. This also includes 17,071 MW of net new wind capacity. Hydropower is projected to contribute 556 MW, while geothermal steam will add 2 MW. In comparison, coal capacity is anticipated to decrease by 28,507 MW. As well as the oil by 1,572 MW, natural gas by 574 MW, nuclear power by 123 MW, and biomass by 103 MW.

What is the Future of Renewable Energy Sources?

If FERC’s projections hold, renewable energy generating capacity will constitute more than a third (33.46%) of the total by the end of the first quarter of 2026. This will be roughly divided between wind (12.23%) and solar (12.16%). Conversely, the share of fossil fuels and nuclear power will decline. Natural gas will decrease from 44% to 41.83%. While coal from 17.12% to 14.16%, oil from 2.99% to 2.73%, and nuclear power from 7.97% to 7.63%. These projections indicate a significant shift towards renewable energy sources and a reduction in reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear power.

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