Renewable Energy Led the Way in New Generating Capacity in the U.S. for This Year

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Data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reveals that utility-scale solar and wind power were the leading sources of new generating capacity added in the United States during the first half of 2023.

The FERC’s “Energy Infrastructure Update” report for the first half of the year shows that out of the total of 17,017 MW of new capacity added, solar contributed 5,867 MW (34.48%), and wind added 2,750 MW (16.16%), making the combined total of new capacity from these two renewable sources 50.64%.

Including other renewables like hydropower, geothermal, and biomass, the mix of renewables accounted for 52.57% of the new generation added during this period. Natural gas contributed 8,025 MW (47.16%) of the new capacity, with the remainder coming from oil and waste heat.

This increase in solar capacity between January and June was the highest for the first half of any prior year reported by FERC. Utility-scale solar now accounts for 6.97% of the total installed generating capacity in the U.S., while wind contributes 11.62%, bringing the combined total of all renewables to 28.06%.

FERC’s forecasts indicate that over the next three years, solar is expected to add another 81,284 MW, and wind is anticipated to expand by 19,734 MW. By June 2026, this could mean that solar and wind combined would contribute to 26.01% of U.S. generating capacity.

Utility-scale solar could surpass wind to become the largest renewable source by capacity within three years.

Moreover, these forecasts might be conservative, as historical data suggests that solar and wind growth has been outpacing FERC’s predictions for “high probability additions.” This trend indicates that renewable energy sources could expand from their current 28.06% of installed generating capacity to 33.99% by June 2026.

Ken Bossong, the executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, emphasized that solar and wind combined are consistently adding more new capacity to the U.S. electrical generating mix than any other energy source.

He added that within three years, they are poised to account for over an eighth of U.S. generating capacity each, with all renewable sources contributing to over a third.

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