Energy Efficiency

Renewable energy production is on the rise, producing half of all new generating capacity in 2012.

Renewable Energy Contributes Half of New Generating Capacity for U.S.

Renewable energy sources from solar, wind, biomass, hydro and geothermal accounted for nearly half of new electrical generating capacity in the United States in 2012. The latest Energy Infrastructure Update from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reported that renewable sources accounted for 49.10 percent of new installed generating capacity last year, totaling 12, 956 megawatts (MW).

Wind Beats Natural Gas in New Generating Capacity

Renewable Energy Generating CapacityWind and solar led the way, with 164 new wind energy units added in 2012 with a total capacity of 10,689MW followed by 1,476MW of new generating capacity from 240 solar energy units. In fact, despite the fracking craze and oft-reported boom in natural gas production, more wind energy capacity was installed in 2012 than natural gas, making wind the leading source of new electrical generating capacity installations in the nation. According to FERC, wind topped gas by 1.943MW of new capacity last year, with natural gas bringing 8,746MW online in 2012.

Contributions from new biomass, geothermal and hydro generation brought 543, 149, and 99MW respectively of new capacity online.

The total from all renewable sources added in 2012 represents a 51.16 percent increase from the  8,571MW of new generation brought online in 2011.

The Long Road to a New Energy Economy

New generating capacity isn’t the same as actual net generation. Most of the country’s generation still comes from fossil fuels, but steady and rapid increase in renewable generating capacity puts total generation from renewable sources at 13 percent of all electrical generation in the US, and growing:

“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.”

Image by: Wayfinder_73

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