New US Power in 2014: More than Half Renewable so Far

September 22, 2014

Renewables International:

The US added 2,478 MW of solar power capacity January-June 2014 according to a SEIA report. That’s a 47% increase over the same period in 2013. Cumulative PV capacity has now passed the 15,000 MW mark in the US. While the installation of residential and commercial systems is up, utility scale solar remains the backbone of solar growth in the US.

After a very painful year, wind power recovered a bit during 1H 2014 with capacity additions of 835 MW (1H 2013: only 2 MW). This growth rate is however still well below the average of past years. Cumulative wind power capacity stood at 61,946 MW.

According to EIA data (which only looks at “utility scale” capacities), the US added 2,319 MW of natural gas power during the first half of the year. This came almost exclusively in the form of more efficient combined cycle gas turbines CCGT.  By the end of June, the US had a natural gas powered generating capacity of429,083 MW (of which CCGT: 226,696 MW).

Coal power saw no capacity addition. On the contrary, coal capacity was actually reduced by 2,015 MW.  Summer generating capacity of coal power declined to 303,988 MW by the end of June 2014.

19 Responses to “New US Power in 2014: More than Half Renewable so Far”

  1. Note, those appear to be nameplate figures.  Actual generation (nameplate * capacity factor) is going to be very different.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      Quite true but I’m happy to see that solar installs are forging ahead and hope to see it ramp up even more, especially in the hot, sunny areas.
      Not at all happy about the NG ramp up but I can live with it if it’s replacing coal that’s being shut down permanently.

  2. petersjazz Says:

    So US solar capacity is 15 GW, like 15 nuclear plants. How many kWh is that per year?

  3. […] Renewables International: The US added 2,478 MW of solar power capacity January-June 2014 according to a SEIA report. That’s a 47% increase over the same period in 2013. Cumulative PV capacity has …  […]

  4. dumboldguy Says:

    Here we go again, bright-sidedly looking at ADDITIONS and comparative rates of change rather than the absolute numbers at the base. This is mostly encouraging news, but PLEASE try to understand that natural gas (over 25% share of capacity and climbing) is 429,000 MW, wind is 62,000 MW, and solar is 15,000 MW. That leaves out coal, which is higher than gas. The math is clear—we have a LONG way to go. Will we get there in time?

    Coal and natural gas still generate ~65% of our electricity, and although coal dropped by 2015 MW, natural gas went UP by 2319 MW for a net INCREASE of 304 MW from fossil fuel burning (even though CO2 may have declined). Since the shares of nuclear and hydro haven’t decreased much, where is all the new solar and wind and excess natural gas generation going? Growth, you say? The question remains—-will renewables overtake fossil fuels rapidly enough to save us from CAGW?

  5. CJ Burr Says:

    Texas will be providing a surge of wind installs that will help these numbers. There is 1,500 MW projected to come online before the end of the year, and a further 5,000 MW scheduled for 2015.

    So Texas looks to be expanding their capacity by around 50% over the coming 15 months as we fill out the new transmission capacity from the CREZ buildout.

    I hope we see some major solar installs start up to take advantage of the lines during the less windy daylight hours. Not much appearing on ERCOTS’s schedule yet, but there has been plenty of talk of solar companies scouting for suitable locations.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Some quotes from the EIA State Profile analysis for Texas. Emphasis added.

      “Texas produces more electricity than any other state, generating almost twice as much as the next largest generating state. Almost ONE-HALF of the electricity generated in Texas comes from NATURAL-GAS-fired power plants, while COAL-fired power plants account for about ONE-THIRD of the net electricity generation. Six of the state’s 10 largest power plants are coal-fired. Two NUCLEAR plants, Comanche Peak and South Texas Project, supply about ONE-TENTH of the state’s electric power generation”.

      “The rest of Texas’ electricity generation is powered by renewable resources, primarily wind. RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES CONTRIBUTE LESS THAN ONE-TENTH OF THE NET GENERATION in Texas. However, with close to one-sixth of the U.S. total, TEXAS LEADS THE NATION in electricity generation from non-hydroelectric renewable resources”.

      For a state that leads the nation, Texas is producing an awful lot of CO2. Fossil fuels account for around 80% of the electricity generation there.

  6. Here are the charts and statistics, and a quote.

    “Texas has added coal- and natural gas-fired capacity since 2011; however, the largest share of capacity growth has been from wind generators, mostly located in western Texas. ”

    “Growth in electricity demand in Texas has been met through increasing amounts of all sources of generation, but renewable sources have grown the fastest. Increased output from renewable sources (mostly wind generators located in the western portion of the state) has important implications for the operation of the electric grid in the state.”

    “In the Texas region, a combination of robust economic growth that outpaced growth in supply and high demand for air conditioning during warm summers has led to strain on the electric system during summer months.”

    The latter is the prime reason solar is primed for growth in Texas.

    Renewables are a relatively new phenomena, growing a few years ago. Despite the late start,

    “Percentage of Texas’ electricity provided by wind in 2013: 8.3 percent. On ERCOT, the main Texas grid, wind energy provided 9.9% of 2013 electricity.”

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Article in WashPost on 9/27/14, referencing latest EIA report—article titled “Carbon output on rise in U.S”. Some quotes:

      “Across the nation, carbon emissions for the first six months of the year were nearly 3 percent higher than during the same period last year, and about 6 percent higher than in 2012”

      “Solar, wind, and hydropower were up more than 7% compared to two years ago, and renewable sources now account for nearly 12%”.

      I won’t insult everyone’s intelligence by pointing out the math involved in calculating the “trend” of something that is nearly 12% and growing at 7+% every two years versus something that is 88+% and growing about 6% every two years.

      It’s good to see what appears to be some good news coming from Texas, but I’m afraid that someone is looking through the wrong end of the telescope again.

      The latest figures (2011) show that Texas has a long way to go. A few NON bright-sided things to consider:

      Texas is #1 among all the states in total CO2 emissions, and produces 12+% of total U.S. CO2

      Texas produces almost twice as much total CO2 as California, the state in second place.

      Texas per capita CO2 emissions are nearly 3 time California’s, despite the fact that California has a population ~1-1/2 times that of Texas.

      Can we afford to wait until 7%of 12% and 6% of 88% somehow give us a world in which CO2 does not increase by over 2PPM every year, never mind level out or decrease? (Cue to E-Pot—-time to chip in on that carbon-free energy source)

      • MorinMoss Says:

        I’d like to see E-Pot explain why nuclear can’t get its costs under control.
        I’d sooner see new-gen nukes than natgas but if you can’t convince the banks & the insurers, they won’t get built.

        According to this WSJ article from 2008, plant costs have been high and over budget since the ’60s.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          The WSJ is not a reliable source. That said, nuclear power unfortunately IS expensive. It will become “cheap” only when the world is forced to take drastic steps to curtail the CO2 levels in the atmosphere because of CAGW.

          E-Pot HAS talked much about why it is expensive. I think that next-gen nuclear coupled with renewables is the way to go rather than burning very much of ANY fossil fuel.

          • MorinMoss Says:

            What’s the problem with WSJ? I don’t know much about them besides the name.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            The WSJ is owned by Newscorp, a Rupert Murdoch company that also owns Fox News. The WSJ was always on the side of the free-marketers and capitalists rather than the 99%, but since being bought by Murdoch a few years ago it has become more more biased and more in the pocket of the 1%. The WSJ is a propaganda machine for the right, just as is Faux News. If you want truth, you’ll have to dig for it in the WSJ. Same goes for Forbes—–it and the WSJ are among the climate change deniers.

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