Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has recently released data, and the SUN DAY Campaign has, on the other hand, took the initiative to review it. From the review, renewable energy sources took the lead among the news U.S. energy capacities between January and November 2020. The great contributors included wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, and biomass, just to mention a few.
For the first 11 months of 2020, new energy capacities were 20,803 MW. Out of that amount, renewables accounted for 14,734 MW, which is approximately 71%. Individual contributions among the renewables included 6.039 MW from natural gas, 6,485 MW from solar, and 8,042 MW from wind. According to FERC’s Energy Infrastructure Update of November, natural gas’s contribution was 29% of the total. Oil contributed 5 M.W., coal accounted for 20 M.W., and the rest of the sources contributed 5 M.W. A report covering six months between June and November 2020 shows hydropower, solar, and wind sources contributed 24 M.W., 2218 MW, and 2987 MW, respectively. November month saw the emergence of 10 solar units with 626 MW and five wind units producing 882 MW.
Coal has for a long time been ahead in energy capacities contributing to the national power grid. However, it now falls second with a contribution of 19.97%, whereas renewable energy sources lead with 23.52%. The contribution of wind is now higher than that of nuclear power since its generating capacity is 9.42% while the latter is at 8.61%. The solar share has also exceeded that of oil since it stands at 4.16%, whereas oil is only 3.31%. Both wind and solar capacities contribute a percentage of 13.58 to the total U.S. power, and that’s excluding distributed solar such as the rooftop one.
Over the last five years, going by FERC reports, the improvement has been evident. The contribution of renewable sources to the national power grid was only 17.56%. The wind has improved from 6.03% to 9.42%, and solar has increased from 1.16% to 4.16%. On the other hand, most of the non-renewable sources registered drops. For instance, since 2015, oil has dropped from 3.68% to 3.31%. Additionally, nuclear stands at 8.16%, which was previously 9.18%, and coal has decreased from 26.42% to 19.97%. However, natural gas was an exception because despite being non-renewable, it has increased from 42.84% to 44.41% in the last five years.
Regarding the available FERC data, the future of renewable sources seems bright. By November 2023, it will have recorded yet another remarkable increase. Renewables contribution to the national power grid is likely to be high since new renewable energy generation capacities might arise, whereas old non-renewable energy generation capacities might also retire.