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Renewable Energy Gaining Ground According to FERC Report

Renewable energy is gaining ground as new electric generation projects are being built, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) latest Energy Infrastructure Update for October, 2012.  The report’s data highlights the growth of the renewable energy industry, as sources such as wind, solar, and hydropower comprise about 46% of all new generating capacity installed from January 1 to October 31, 2012.

New capacity fueled by natural gas, oil and coal totaled 7994 MW spread across 67 natural gas, nine oil, and three new coal projects.  Nuclear energy saw a capacity increase of 125 MW with only one new project from January – October of 2012.  Wind and solar are the stars of renewable electricity generation.  A total of 92 new wind power projects were online from January – October of 2012.  This equals a new generation capacity of 5403 MW, second in installed capacity only to natural gas generation for the first ten months of 2012.  Biomass, geothermal, water, and waste heat also added generation to the grid this year, with a combined total of 547 MW spread across 96 projects.

Fossil fuels still equal about 75% of our total electric generating capacity, but the growth rate of renewable energy is the message to take home from FERC’s report.  According to the data, renewable energy generation has grown almost 48% since 2011.  If this trend continues at its current pace we will see renewable energy generation displacing more and more fossil fuel powered plants in coming years.
Currently, there are a total of 172.86 GW of renewable electricity generated by water, wind, biomass, geothermal, solar, and waste heat in the United States.  Fuel cells are also beginning to make an impact.  Along with two waste-to-energy plants that were added to capacity in 2012, FERC notes that a 2.8 MW fuel cell power plant recently came online in California.

All this new energy generation will need a way to get to our homes and businesses.  That’s why transmission infrastructure is addressed in this report along with generation sources.  From January-October of 2012 1,191.1 miles of new transmission lines have been installed in the US, with at least another 11,468 miles estimated to be completed by 2014.  The burgeoning role of renewable energy shines forth in FERC’s data and this is exciting news for the goal of North American Energy Independence.

Jessica Kennedy
Energy Curtailment Specialists, Inc.

Jessica can be found on Twitter and Google+.

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