100% of New US Power Capacity Was Wind & Solar Power in October

Credit to Author: Zachary Shahan| Date: Tue, 15 Dec 2020 07:52:47 +0000

Published on December 15th, 2020 | by Zachary Shahan

December 15th, 2020 by  

With another month logged and put on the record books, we have another month in which only power from renewable energy sources was added to the US electricity grid — 100% of new power capacity was from renewables. (This refers to new power capacity, not electricity generation.) Transitioning the enormous power capacity installed across the United States is no small matter and requires years of work, but each step puts us further along the path, and October was certainly a step in the right direction.

Wind power accounted for the bulk of new power capacity in October (85.5% if you don’t include an estimate for small-scale solar power additions, or 64% if you include our estimate for small-scale solar installations). Solar power accounted for the rest (14.5% from large-scale solar according to data from FERC, or 36% from all types of solar if you include CleanTechnica‘s estimate for small-scale solar).

For the year to date, US solar power breaks down as follows:

US wind power breaks down as follows:

And US natural gas breaks down as follows:

As noted above, if you look at total installed capacity across the United States, it’s a much less uplifting breakdown. (The following numbers exclude small-scale solar.) Solar accounts for 4.1% of capacity, wind for 9.3%, and water for 8.3%. On the dirty side, natural gas accounts for 44.5%, coal accounts for 20%, and oil accounts for 3.3%. We’ve got a long way to go.

As far as what the new projects were in October, here’s a view of the project list, courtesy FERC:

That’s a total of 4 wind power projects (220 MW, 163.3 MW, 150.5 MW, and 103 MW) and 16 large-scale solar power projects that went online in October.

While no other power projects went online in October, 35 natural gas projects have gone online in 2020 and 5 coal power projects (but given the total power capacity, they were likely small upgrades to existing plants). On the other hand, 12 hydropower projects, 60 wind power projects, and 289 large-scale solar power projects went online in the country in the first 10 months of the year.

Last but not least, FERC also includes an outlook for power capacity additions in the coming 3 years. I will take a closer look at these numbers and what they mean in a coming article, but in the meantime, here’s a breakdown of the estimated number of units and total capacity that will be installed and retired from November 2020 through October 2023 from the various electricity generation sources:

Clearly, the trend will continue to favor renewables, yet fossil fuels may still add more capacity to the grid in net at the same time.

For more, check out previous US power capacity reports. Also, check out our US electricity generation reports. You can also check out the full FERC report for October here


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is tryin’ to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in NIO [NIO], Tesla [TSLA], and Xpeng [XPEV]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.