Renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) strongly dominated new US energy generation capacity additions in 2020, according to the SUN DAY Campaign of data released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Combined, renewables accounted for 22,451MW, or more than three-quarters (78.09%) of the 28,751MW of new utility-scale capacity reported to have been added last year.
Wind (13,626MW) and solar (8,543MW) each contributed more new energy generation capacity than did natural gas (6,259 MW).
FERC’s latest monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” report (with data through December 31, 2020) also reveals that natural gas accounted for 21.77% of the total, with very small contributions by coal (30MW), oil (6MW), and “other” sources (5MW) providing the balance. There were no new capacity additions by nuclear power or geothermal energy during the year.
Wind farms added 5,004MW in December alone and provided nearly half (47.39%) of the new capacity for the year. Solar accounted for 29.71% of new generating capacity. Combined with a small amount of hydropower, wind and solar were the only new sources of new generating capacity during six (June through November) of the twelve months of 2020.
Renewable energy sources now account for 24.06% of the nation’s total available installed generating capacity and continue to expand their lead over coal (19.65%) and nuclear power (8.57%). The generating capacity of just wind (9.83%) is nearly a tenth of the nation’s total, while wind and solar combined account for 14.15%, and that does not include distributed (e.g., rooftop) solar.
For perspective, ten years ago, FERC reported that installed renewable energy generating capacity was 13.71% of the nation’s total. Five years later, it had increased to 17.83%. With current capacity now at 24.06%, renewables now appear to be on track to reach – and likely exceed – 30% of the nation’s total generating capacity by 2025.
In fact, FERC data suggest that