“… [N]ew renewable energy capacity could quadruple that of fossil fuels over next three years”

This is utility-scale capacity only. See the footnote from the original post repeated at the bottom. Also, given uncertainties related to federal data availability at federal Web sites during the partial federal shutdown, I have copied the cited report and placed it so it is publicly available in a safe location.


Washington DC – According to an analysis by the SUN DAY Campaign of the latest data released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), natural gas dominated new electrical generating capacity in 2018. However, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) may be poised to swamp fossil fuels as new generating capacity is added over the next three years.

FERC’s “Energy Infrastructure Update” report (with data through November 30, 2018) notes that new natural gas generation placed in service during the first 11 months of 2018 totaled 16,687 MW or 68.46% of the total (24,376 MW). Renewable sources accounted for only 30.12% led by wind (3,772 MW) and solar (3,449MW).(*)

However, the same report indicates that proposed generation and retirements by December 2021 include net capacity additions by renewable sources of 169,914 MW. That is 4.3 times greater than the net new additions listed for coal, oil, and natural gas combined (39,414 MW).

Net proposed generation additions from wind alone total 90,268 MW while those from solar are 64,066 MW — each greater than that listed for natural gas (56,881 MW). FERC lists only a single new 17-MW coal unit for the three-year period but 16,122 MW in retirements. Oil will also decline by 1,362 MW while nuclear power is depicted as remaining largely unchanged (i.e., a net increase of 69 MW).

FERC’s data also reveal that renewable sources now account for 20.8% of total available installed U.S. generating capacity.(**) Utility-scale solar is nearly 3% (i.e., 2.94%) while hydropower and wind account for 8.42% and 7.77% respectively.

(*) FERC only reports data for utility-scale facilities (i.e., those rated 1-MW or greater) and therefore its data does not reflect the capacity of distributed renewables, notably rooftop solar PV which accounts for approximately 30% of the nation’s installed solar capacity.

(**) Capacity is not the same as actual generation. Capacity factors for nuclear power and fossil fuels tend to be higher than those for most renewables. For the first ten months of 2018, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that renewables accounted for 17.6% of the nation’s total electrical generation – that is, a bit less than their share of installed generating capacity (20.8%).


FERC’s 6-page “Energy Infrastructure Update for November 2018” was released in early January 2019. In a seeming departure from its norm, FERC did not announce the release of this report on its web page and a specific release date does not appear on the report itself. However, it is assumed the report was issued within the past week. It can be found at: https://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/2018/nov-energy-infrastructure.pdf. For the information cited in this update, see the tables entitled “New Generation In-Service (New Build and Expansion),” “Total Available Installed Generating Capacity,” and “Proposed Generation Additions and Retirements by October 2021.”

About ecoquant

See https://wordpress.com/view/667-per-cm.net/ Retired data scientist and statistician. Now working projects in quantitative ecology and, specifically, phenology of Bryophyta and technical methods for their study.
This entry was posted in American Solar Energy Society, Anthropocene, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF, bridge to somewhere, Buckminster Fuller, clean disruption, CleanTechnica, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, electricity, FERC, green tech, ILSR, investment in wind and solar energy, John Farrell, Joseph Schumpeter, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, local generation, local self reliance, natural gas, rate of return regulation, solar democracy, solar domination, solar energy, solar power, Sonnen community, the energy of the people, the right to know, the value of financial assets, Tony Seba, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to “… [N]ew renewable energy capacity could quadruple that of fossil fuels over next three years”

  1. For anyone who respects nature, this is grim news. Wind power in particular is a bleak invasion of the last remnants of unfettered open space & scenery where the wind blows. More birds, bats & insects will die as it expands.

    This assertion here demands documentation. You are new to the blog and apparently have not read the rules. In particular you need to compare deaths of these to deaths from colliding with, say, large buildings in cities, particularly during migration. Moreover, you should establish how modern wind turbines are as bad for these creatures as old ones were. I am leaving this comment in with this warning.

    This blight for naught is rationalized by the grand assumption that wind projects will slow AGW and save more species than they snuff out. There’s no way to prove that in the present, but math generally debunks it (see CMO equivalent energy).

    It’s irrational to think that machines built WITH fossil fuels can somehow replace them at a necessary and permanent scale. Some wind projects are essentially natural gas plants with wind backup. You can rely on gas 24/7 (for awhile) by itself, but never wind alone. Same deal with solar, and backup batteries aren’t built with other batteries.

    This is also an assertion without substantiation. Substantiate it. If you don’t and continue to post such comments they will not be approved.

    People who support Big Wind are civilizationists, not true environmentalists. Nature will survive AGW (with casualties) but humans will be forced to move farms, cities, factories and roads, so they’re trying one last stand with technological hubris. Environmental groups should return to their roots and not merely side with greenwashed growthism. Being in need of money, they’re in a bind if they remain purists.

    I think nuclear is the best hope for a small footprint, both carbon and acreage-wise. Windschmerz is just depressing.

    Personal opinion. But nuclear is incredibly expensive in comparison.

    By the way, dear readers, whoever this is, they write and act like a clone of Michael Shellenberger, who, among other things, refers to “climate alarmism”.

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