Growth in renewable energy production within the U.S. is widespread, but unique features of every region mean that the transition to renewables looks different from state to state. Measured by the proportion of total electricity generated from renewable sources, states in Recent England and the Western U.S. surpass the remaining of the country, largely because of this of renewable-friendly state policies. (Global Trade)
Based on a review by the SUN DAY Campaign of information recently released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), renewable sources accounted for nearly 70% of the brand new U.S. electrical generating capability added throughout the first eight months of 2022. Furthermore, net recent “high probability” additions by solar and wind over the following three years are actually projected to be greater than 26-times that of natural gas.
Renewables Provide Almost 70% of Recent Capability in First Two-Thirds 2022:
Wind (7,514 MW) and solar (5,711) provided 68.79% of the 19,224 megawatts (MW) in utility-scale (i.e. > 1-MW) capability put into service throughout the first two-thirds of the yr. Additional capability was provided by geothermal (68-MW), biomass (18-MW), and hydropower (10-MW). Combined, renewable sources accounted for 69.29% of the full. The balance got here from natural gas (5,878-MW), nuclear (17-MW), and oil (8-MW). No recent capability was reported for 2022 from coal.
Recent capability reported in August alone comprised 13-MW of geothermal steam and 238-MW of solar. The latter includes the 104.0-MW Graphite Solar Project in Carbon County, UT, the 66.5-MW Quinebaug Canterbury Solar Project in Windham County, CT, and the 50.0-MW Bear Creek Solar Project in Richland, WI, amongst others.
These recent additions bring renewable energy’s share of total U.S. available installed generating capability as much as 26.86%: wind – 11.24%, hydropower – 8.02%, solar – 6.06%, biomass – 1.22%, and geothermal – 0.32%. For comparison, five years earlier, renewables’ share was 19.78%. Ten years ago, it was 14.74%.
FERC Foresees Very Strong Solar and Wind Growth within the Near Term:
Perhaps more dramatic are the trend lines indicated by FERC data for the following three years – i.e., through August 2025.
FERC reports that there could also be as much as 195,086 MW of latest solar capability within the pipeline with 67,147 MW classified as “high probability” additions and no offsetting “retirements.” The “high probability” additions alone would nearly double utility-scale solar’s current installed capability of 76,040-MW, while successful completion of all projects within the pipeline would nearly quadruple it.
As well as, recent wind capability by August 2025 could total 69,954 MW with 17,595 MW being “high probability” and only 146-MW of retirements expected. Thus, installed wind capability (now 141,100-MW) could grow by no less than 12.5% and possibly by rather more.
“High probability” generation capability additions for utility-scale solar and wind combined, minus anticipated retirements, reflect a projected net increase of 84,596-MW over the following three years, or over 2,350 MW per thirty days. That figure doesn’t include recent distributed, small-scale solar capability or additions by hydropower, geothermal, and biomass.
Prospects for Natural Gas Plummet:
Possibly more startling is how little net recent natural gas capability FERC anticipates being added over the following three years – just 3,200-MW (i.e., 20,880-MW in “high probability” additions minus 17,680-MW in retirements). That’s significantly less net recent gas capability by August 2025 than the brand new gas capability that was added in the primary two-thirds of 2022. For perspective, in August 2019, FERC had foreseen 19,757 MW of net recent natural gas additions within the three-year pipeline. The newly-reported sharp drop in natural gas pipeline projects suggests a serious reversal for its prospects.
FERC also expects recent nuclear additions to total 2,200 MW (i.e., the 2 recent reactors being constructed on the Vogtle nuclear plant site near Waynesboro, Georgia).
If just FERC’s latest “high probability” projections materialize, by August 2025, renewable energy sources would grow from over 1 / 4 today to almost a 3rd (31.88%) of the nation’s total installed generating capability. Utility-scale solar and wind generating capability would expand from 17.30% of domestic capability today to 22.78% by August 2025 with solar and wind accounting for 10.81% and 11.97%, respectively.
Meanwhile, natural gas’ share would contract from 44.25% today to 42.20% by August 2025. If current trends proceed or – as seems likely – speed up, renewable energy generating capability should overtake that of natural gas by 2030, if not sooner. Furthermore, coal’s share of the nation’s generating capability would fall from 17.54% to fifteen.12% by August 2025 while that of nuclear power would decline from 8.16% to 7.90%.
“FERC’s latest data don’t yet reflect the impact of the recently-enacted Inflation Reduction Act,” noted the SUN DAY Campaign’s executive director Ken Bossong. “It’s subsequently not unreasonable to expect the already strong growth of renewable energy to speed up rapidly within the near term and proceed to displace fossil fuels and nuclear power.”
 Capability will not be similar to actual generation. Capability aspects for nuclear power and fossil fuels are inclined to be higher than those for many renewables. Thus, in its most up-to-date “Electric Power Monthly” report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that renewables accounted for twenty-four.2% of the nation’s total electrical generation in the primary seven months of 2022 – that’s, somewhat lower than what FERC reported was their share (26.86%) of installed generating capability for a similar period.
 FERC generally only reports data for utility-scale facilities (i.e., those rated 1-MW or greater) and subsequently its data don’t reflect the capability of distributed renewables, notably rooftop solar PV which – in response to the EIA – accounts for nearly 30% of the nation’s electrical generation by solar. That might suggest that the full of distributed and utility-scale solar capability combined is significantly greater than the solar capability of 6.06% reported by FERC for the primary two-thirds of 2022 and is probably closer to eight.5%.
This text was written by The SUN DAY Campaign. Its a non-profit research and academic organization founded in 1992 to support a rapid transition to 100% reliance on sustainable energy technologies as an economical alternative to nuclear power and fossil fuels and as an answer to climate change.