Weekly Article on Green Fuels: 24th-to-1st-May-2015


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Office of Energy Projects has issued its latest "Energy Infrastructure Update" about the first three months of 2015. According to said report, over 75 percent of new electricity generating capability, which equaled 1229 megawatts (MW), came from a combination of hydropower, geothermal, wind and solar power. The remaining 302 MW came from natural gas. No new electricity came from coal, oil, biomass or nuclear power.

That means no new oil wells, nuclear power plants or coal mines were built or exploited. On the other hand, eight new "units" of wind were completed and began operation during the quarter. They have a combined capacity of 647 MW, which means they are responsible for over 52 percent of the new electricity being generated. The most recent addition is a wind project built by Hoopestown Wind LLC in Vermilion County, IL. It can generate 98 MW and was completed in March.

During the same quarter, 30 units of solar producing 214 MW were brought on-line. So were a geothermal unit producing 45 MW and a hydropower unit producing 21 MW. Five new units of natural gas were also brought on-line. March saw the addition of two of these units when El Paso Electric completed Phase I of its Montana Power Station. Both units can each produce 88 MW.

These numbers are similar to those seen during the first quarter of 2014, when renewable energy sources provided 1422 MW of new capacity and natural gas provided 159 MW of new capacity, while oil provided only 1 MW and coal and nuclear power provided nothing.

Seventeen percent of the total installed working generating capacity in the U.S. is dedicated to renewable energy sources. That means 17 percent of the various facilities and projects currently used to generate electricity consist of projects like wind farms and solar arrays. Hydropower leads the pack with 8.5 percent, and wind comes in second with 5.7 percent. The big news for the remaining three is that solar power has cracked the one percent threshold.

The really big news is that the combined sources of renewable energy have a greater capacity than do nuclear power (9.1 percent) and oil (3.9 percent). The trends over the past few years have been clear and consistent. More and more of American energy is coming from renewable energy sources, while less and less comes from coal, oil and nuclear power.