Solar Today Summer 2016 : Page 30

good news you can use 70x More New Capacity from Renewables than Gas in 1st Quarter 2016 By Ken Bossong etting a new lopsided quarterly record, renewable sources (i.e., wind, solar, bio-mass, and hydropower) outpaced --in fact, swamped --natural gas by a factor of more than 70:1 for new electrical generating capacity placed in-service during the first three months of calendar year 2016. According to the latest just-released monthly "Ener-gy Infrastructure Update" report from the Federal Ener-gy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, nine new "units" of wind provided 707 mega-watts (MW), followed by 44 units of solar (522 MW), 9 units of biomass (33 MW), and one unit of hydropower (29 MW). By comparison, only two new units of natural gas (18 MW) came on line. There was no new capacity reported for the quarter from coal, oil, nuclear power, or geothermal steam. Further, solar (75 MW), wind (72 MW), and biomass (33 MW) accounted for 100% of new generating capac-ity reported by FERC for just the month of March. Solar and wind were the only sources of new capacity in Jan-uary as well. S Ken Bossong ( sun-day-campaign@hotmail.com) is Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign, a non-profit research and information organization working on renewable energy and energy efficiency issues. He is a consultant to American Councils and IREX on the selection and placement of scholars from the United States, the former Soviet Union, and Africa working on environmental and other policy issues. Renewable energy sources now account for 18.11% of total available installed generating capacity in the U.S.: water -8.58%, wind -6.39%, biomass -1.43%, solar -1.38%, and geothermal steam -0.33%. For perspec-tive, when FERC issued its very first "Energy Infrastruc-ture Update" in December 2010, renewable sources accounted for just 13.71%. Moreover, the share of total available installed gen-erating capacity now provided by non-hydro renew-ables (9.53%) not only exceeds that of conventional hydropower (8.58%) but is also greater than that from either nuclear power (9.17%) or oil (3.83 %). * "While often touted as being a 'bridge fuel,' natural gas is increasingly becoming an unnecessary bridge to nowhere," noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. "As renewables continue to rapidly expand their share of the nation's electrical generation, it's becoming clear that natural gas will eventually join coal, oil, and nuclear power as fuels of the past." The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released its most recent 6-page "Energy Infrastructure Update," with data through March 31, 2016, on April 27, 2016. See the tables titled "New Generation In-Service (New Build and Expansion)" and "Total Available Installed Generating Capacity" at: http://www.ferc.gov/legal/ staff-reports/2016/mar-infrastructure.pdf. * Note that generating capacity is not the same as actual generation. Electrical production per MW of available capacity (i.e., capacity factor) for renewables is often lower than that for fossil fuels and nuclear power. According to the most recent data provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, actual net electrical generation from utility-scale renewable energy sources totaled about 14.3% of total U.S. electrical production as of January 31, 2016 (see: http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly). However, this figure understates renewables' actual contribution because neither EIA nor FERC fully accounts for all electricity generated by distributed, smaller-scale renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar (e.g., FERC acknowledges that its data just reflect "plants with nameplate capacity of 1 MW or greater").

70x More New Capacity From Renewables Than Gas In 1st Quarter 2016

Ken Bossong


Setting a new lopsided quarterly record, renewable sources (i.e., wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower) outpaced -- in fact, swamped -- natural gas by a factor of more than 70:1 for new electrical generating capacity placed in-service during the first three months of calendar year 2016.

According to the latest just-released monthly "Energy Infrastructure Update" report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, nine new "units" of wind provided 707 megawatts (MW), followed by 44 units of solar (522 MW), 9 units of biomass (33 MW), and one unit of hydropower (29 MW). By comparison, only two new units of natural gas (18 MW) came on line. There was no new capacity reported for the quarter from coal, oil, nuclear power, or geothermal steam.

Further, solar (75 MW), wind (72 MW), and biomass (33 MW) accounted for 100% of new generating capacity reported by FERC for just the month of March. Solar and wind were the only sources of new capacity in January as well.

Renewable energy sources now account for 18.11% of total available installed generating capacity in the U.S.: water - 8.58%, wind - 6.39%, biomass - 1.43%, solar - 1.38%, and geothermal steam - 0.33%. For perspective, when FERC issued its very first "Energy Infrastructure Update" in December 2010, renewable sources accounted for just 13.71%.

Moreover, the share of total available installed generating capacity now provided by non-hydro renewables (9.53%) not only exceeds that of conventional hydropower (8.58%) but is also greater than that from either nuclear power (9.17%) or oil (3.83 %). "While often touted as being a 'bridge fuel,' natural gas is increasingly becoming an unnecessary bridge to nowhere," noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. "As renewables continue to rapidly expand their share of the nation's electrical generation, it's becoming clear that natural gas will eventually join coal, oil, and nuclear power as fuels of the past."

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released its most recent 6-page "Energy Infrastructure Update," with data through March 31, 2016, on April 27, 2016. See the tables titled "New Generation In-Service (New Build and Expansion)" and "Total Available Installed Generating Capacity" at: http://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/2016/mar-infrastructure.pdf.

Note that generating capacity is not the same as actual generation. Electrical production per MW of available capacity (i.e., capacity factor) for renewables is often lower than that for fossil fuels and nuclear power. According to the most recent data provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, actual net electrical generation from utility-scale renewable energy sources totaled about 14.3% of total U.S. electrical production as of January 31, 2016 (see: http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly). However, this figure understates renewables' actual contribution because neither EIA nor FERC fully accounts for all electricity generated by distributed, smaller-scale renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar (e.g., FERC acknowledges that its data just reflect "plants with nameplate capacity of 1 MW or greater").

Ken Bossong (sun-day-campaign@hotmail.com) is Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign, a non-profit research and information organization working on renewable energy and energy efficiency issues. He is a consultant to American Councils and IREX on the selection and placement of scholars from the United States, the former Soviet Union, and Africa working on environmental and other policy issues.

Read the full article at http://www.omagdigital.com/article/70x+More+New+Capacity+From+Renewables+Than+Gas+In+1st+Quarter+2016/2526208/317729/article.html.

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