Newly released data from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) highlights a promising trend: newly added renewable capacity for 2015 is 70 percent higher than all new generating capacity and 900 times more than coal output.
The recently released “Energy Infrastructure Update” report revealed that almost 70 percent of the newly installed electrical generation came from clean-tech geothermal, biomass, wind, hydropower and solar sources this year.
But the promising figures are underestimated and could be higher. The FERC does not include distributed solar energy generated from residential and commercial rooftops figures in its data.
In order of most renewable energy output:
- Wind accounted for more than half of all new capacity at 1,969 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity
- Solar followed with 549 MW although the amount is likely higher if commercial and residential energy collected would be included
- Biomass comes in third with 128 MW
- Geothermal steam added 45 MW to the figures
- Hydropower contributed 21 MW
To add to the great news, there have been no new installations of oil-based electricity generation plants or nuclear power installations, and just one coal facility installation in the US this year. The report findings also show that this year’s renewables amounted to more than 50 percent of the new capacity derived from gas, which contributed 1,173 MW.
The US has finally embraced renewable energy. And as the US grows its renewable energy output, other parts of the world are likely to follow. In contrast to other energy sources, renewable energy resources are able to exist over wide geographical areas, in contrast to other energy sources, which are concentrated in a small number of countries.
While many renewable energy projects are large-scale, renewable technologies can also be effective in remote areas and developing nations, where energy is often a vital component to a developing nation’s progress.
United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, a strong supporter of clean, renewable technology has said, “What we need most is strong, sustained political leadership to drive this clean energy revolution forward at the speed and scale necessary. We need to ensure that the right policy incentives and policies are in place to let the market do what it does best: innovate down the cost curve, and satisfy demand.”
More than 30 nations worldwide have renewable energy contributing at least 20 percent to their energy supply. And these renewable energy markets are projected to continue to grow strongly in the coming decade and beyond.
While the US is making positive strides forward, it has yet to catch up with the 30 nations with at least 20 percent of energy coming from renewable sources. According to the US Energy Information Agency, preliminary data shows that renewable sources of energy accounted for 13 percent of US electricity generation.
As the federal government reviews whether or not to renew its federal tax incentives geared towards promoting clean and renewable energy resources, SUN DAY Campaign executive director Ken Bossong, said: “With congress now debating whether to extend the federal tax incentives for renewable energy sources, it is reasonable to ask whether the American public has gotten a good return on these investments,” he commented. “The latest FERC data confirms that the answer is a resounding yes.”