Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Renewable Energy & Gas Supply 100% Of New Generation Capacity In First Quarter

Get used to this fact. It is going to be repeated time and again for the next 20 years in the USA.

Renewable energy and gas provided 100% of all new capacity in the USA during the first quarter of 2013
http://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/2013/mar-energy-infrastructure.pdf. No new coal, nuclear, or oil capacity came on line.

A total of 1,886 megawatts came on line in the first 3 months of 2013, and 82% were renewable energy or 1,546 megawatts.  The remainder of 340 megawatts came from natural gas plants.

Making up the renewable totals were 958 megawatts of wind and 537 megawatts of solar.  Wind again leads the nation in new capacity and does so even when it is in a bit of a lull.  As for the solar number, it includes only utility scale solar farms that are feeding power into the grid.

Then consider this stunning fact: 100% of all the new capacity opening in March were solar plants. Wow!


  1. When we're talking about capacity ratings for renewables, is that assuming what their output would be if they were subjected to optimal conditions 24/7/365? Or does that factor in the inevitable periods of lower productivity?

    1. The "capacity factor" is what percentage of the maximum output that a plant actually runs. In the windiest on land locations in the US, a wind farm could have a 40% capacity factor or produce 40% of its maximum output. That does NOT mean that it is producing power 40% of the time. In fact, many wind farms are producing some power 85% or more of the hours in a year. Many things impact capacity factors of all plants--economics, fuel, planned maintenance outages, unplanned maintenance outages. As a rule of thumb, a baseload gas plant (designed to run nearly all the time near maximum output) will produce about 3 times more power per megawatt of capacity than a megawatt of wind. So the 340 megawatts of gas capacity built in the US during the first quarter, if it is designed to be baseload and not peaking power, will produce about an amount of electricity equal to or a bit greater than the approximately 900 megawatts of wind built in the US during the first quarter.

  2. Thanks John. Great explanation.


  3. You failed (consistantly) to consider that gas produces the electricity whenever you turn it on, while wind produces intermittently, at uncontrolable times.

    You also fail, consistently, to mention that wind power is favored by renewable mandates: i.e. governments mandate that wind power be preferred over other sources, and used, or purchased whenever it is available (i.e. when the wind happens to blow).