Renewable Energy Accounts for 70% of New U.S. Generating Capacity in First Half of 2015

In yet another clear indication of the nation's energy future, renewable sources—biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind—accounted for nearly 70 percent (69.75 percent) of new electrical generation placed in service in the U.S. during the first six months of 2015.

New capacity from renewable energy sources during the first half of 2015 is 904 times greater than that from coal and more than double that from natural gas.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

According to the recently-released "Energy Infrastructure Update" report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, 18 new "units" of wind accounted for 1,969 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity—or more than half of all new capacity year-to-date. Among renewable sources, solar followed with 549 MW (71 units), biomass 128 MW (7 units), geothermal steam 45 MW (1 unit) and hydropower 21 MW (1 unit). Twenty-one units of natural gas contributed 1,173 MW.

FERC reported no new capacity for the year-to-date from oil or nuclear power and just 3 MW from one unit of coal. Thus, new capacity from renewable energy sources during the first half of 2015 is 904 times greater than that from coal and more than double that from natural gas.

For the month of June alone, wind (320 MW), biomass (95 MW) and solar (62 MW) provided 97 percent of new capacity with natural gas providing the balance (15 MW).

Renewable energy sources now account for 17.27 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: water at 8.61 percent, wind at 5.84 percent, biomass at 1.40 percent, solar at 1.08 percent and geothermal steam at 0.34 percent (for comparison, renewables were 16.28 percent of capacity in June 2014 and 15.81 percent in June 2013).

Renewable electrical capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.20 percent) and oil (3.87 percent) combined. In fact, the installed capacity of wind power alone has now surpassed that of oil. On the other hand, generating capacity from coal has declined from 28.96 percent in mid-2013 to 26.83 percent today.

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 to date. The latest FERC data confirms that the answer is a resounding yes!


And the Cheapest Electricity in America Is … Solar

Does Elon Musk’s Tesla Model S ‘Signal the Beginning of the End for Oil?’

Coal Is No Longer King in America, Says EIA Report

Show Comments ()
Solar shade canopies. University of Hawaii

This College Could Become the First 100% Renewable Campus in U.S.

As a growing number of U.S. cities make pledges towards 100 percent renewables, it's easy to forget that the entire state of Hawaii set this important benchmark three years ago when it mandated that all of its electricity must come from renewable sources no later than 2045.

To help the Aloha State meet this ambitious commitment, in 2015, the University of Hawaii (UH) and the Hawaiian Legislature set a collective goal for the university system to be "net-zero" by Jan. 1, 2035, which means the total amount of energy consumed is equal to the amount of renewable energy created.

Keep reading... Show less

Silver Nanoparticles in Clothing Wash Out, May Be Toxic

By Sukalyan Sengupta and Tabish Nawaz

Humans have known since ancient times that silver kills or stops the growth of many microorganisms. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is said to have used silver preparations for treating ulcers and healing wounds. Until the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s, colloidal silver (tiny particles suspended in a liquid) was a mainstay for treating burns, infected wounds and ulcers. Silver is still used today in wound dressings, in creams and as a coating on medical devices.

Keep reading... Show less
4.4 million premature air pollution deaths could be avoided in Kolkata if emissions are reduced swiftly this century. M M / CC BY-SA 2.0

Study Finds Timely Emissions Reductions Could Prevent 153 Million Air Pollution Deaths This Century

One of the roadblocks to swift action on climate change is the human brain's tendency to focus on threats and stimuli that are an obvious and noticeable part of their everyday lives, rather than an abstract and future problem, as Amit Dhir explained in The Decision Lab.

Now, a study published in Nature Climate Change Monday shows that acting quickly to curb greenhouse gas emissions would also reduce the air pollution that is already a major urban killer, thereby saving millions of lives within the next 40 years.

Keep reading... Show less
Lands threatened by BLM's March 2018 sale include Hatch Point. Neal Clark / SUWA

Trump Administration Sells Oil and Gas Leases Near Utah National Monuments

The Interior Department on Tuesday is auctioning off 32 parcels of public lands in southeastern Utah for oil and gas development.

The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) lease sale includes more than 51,000 acres of land near Bears Ears—the national monument significantly scaled back by the Trump administration last year—as well as the Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients monuments.

Keep reading... Show less
Katharine Hayhoe talks climate communication hacks at the Natural Products Expo West Convention. Climate Collaborative

Katharine Hayhoe Reveals Surprising Ways to Talk About Climate Change

By Katie O'Reilly

Katharine Hayhoe isn't your typical atmospheric scientist. Throughout her career, the evangelical Christian and daughter of missionaries has had to convince many (including her pastor husband) that science and religion need not be at odds when it comes to climate change. Hayhoe, who directs Texas Tech's University's Climate Science Center, is CEO of ATMOS Research, a scientific consulting company, and produces the PBS Kids' web series Global Weirding, rose to national prominence in early 2012 after then-presidential candidate Newt Gingrich dropped her chapter from a book he was editing about the environment. The reason? Hayhoe's arguments affirmed that climate change was no liberal hoax. The Toronto native attracted the fury of Rush Limbaugh, who encouraged his listeners to harass her.

Keep reading... Show less
Rising Tide NA / Twitter

Kinder Morgan Pipeline Protest Grows: Arrests Include a Greenpeace Founder, Juno-Nominated Grandfather

By Andy Rowell

Just because you get older, it doesn't mean you cannot stop taking action for what you believe in. And Monday was a case in point. Two seventy-year-olds, still putting their bodies on the line for environmental justice and indigenous rights.

Early Monday morning, the first seventy-year-old, a grandfather of two, and former nominee for Canada's Juno musical award, slipped into Kinder Morgan's compound at one of its sites for the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline and scaled a tree and then erected a mid-air platform with a hammock up in the air.

Keep reading... Show less

The Grapes of Trash

By Marlene Cimons

German monk and theologian Martin Luther probably said it best: "Beer is made by men, wine by God." It's true—the world loves its wine. Americans, in fact, downed close to a billion gallons of it in 2016. But winemakers create a lot of waste when they produce all that vino, most of it in seeds, stalks and skins.

Keep reading... Show less

Why Mike Pompeo Could Be Even Worse for the Environment Than Rex Tillerson

By Kelle Louaillier

As Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson was one of the most blatant revolving-door cases in the Trump administration and a clear sign that Trump's government was of, by and for the fossil fuel industry. But make no mistake: Mike Pompeo could be far worse.

Keep reading... Show less


The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!