FERC report on how solar and wind performed in Sept

Solar Panel and Wind Turbine

Solar and wind provided nearly six times as much new generating capacity as natural gas in September.

New capacity placed into service that month included 359 megawatts (MW) of wind and 232 MW of solar but only 100 MW of natural gas, according to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Gas still holds a diminishing lead for 2019 with 52.87 percent of all new generating capacity compared to 45.14 percent for the mix of renewables (i.e., wind – 25.46 percent, solar – 18.49 percent, hydropower – 0.76 percent, biomass – 0.43 percent, geothermal – 0.00 percent). The balance of new capacity added includes nuclear power (1.06 percent), oil (0.50 percent), and coal (0.42 percent).

Gap between gas and renewables for calendar year 2019 appears to be closing with additions by the latter outpacing gas during each of the last three months reported (i.e., July, August, September).

New natural gas additions by September 2022 are projected to be 19,658 MW while the net capacity of coal, nuclear power, and oil are all forecast to suffer significant declines of 18,755 MW, 4,851 MW, and 3,007 MW respectively.

Mix of fossil fuels and nuclear power will experience an overall capacity drop of 6,955 MW. Meanwhile, net new additions by renewables are projected to total 48,451 MW (wind – 28,918 MW, solar – 17,532 MW, hydropower – 1,404 MW, biomass – 317 MW, and geothermal – 280 MW).

Renewable energy sources will provide 24.96 percent of the nation’s total available installed generating capacity by September 2022 compared to 21.78 percent today with wind alone accounting for 10.45 percent and utility-scale solar at 4.64 percent. The balance will be provided by hydropower (8.23 percent), biomass (1.31 percent), and geothermal (0.33 percent).

FERC also projects that the capacity of new coal plants over the next three years will be zero because none are reported as being under construction. FERC’s latest projections show that coal’s share of the available installed generating capacity will drop from 21.32 percent today to 19.09 percent in three years.

The FERC report also reveals that the installed wind generating capacity (100.85 gigawatts (GW)) has exceeded that of hydropower (100.76 GW). Installed solar capacity (40.05 GW) is now greater than that of oil (39.85 GW).

The combined installed generating capacity of all renewable sources (261.49 GW) continued to expand its lead over coal (255.90 GW). Renewable energy generating capacity is also now nearly 2.5 times more than that of nuclear power (106.33 GW) and over six times greater than that of oil (39.85 GW).

Only natural gas’ installed generating capacity (534.77 GW) exceeds that of  renewables.