Hydropower is currently the largest source of renewable energy in the US, but the gains to capacity were largely made in the solar and wind industries. Over the last decade, wind generation has risen from 3% of renewable generation to over 30%. It has become particularly popular in Texas, partially due to the Texas Renewable Portfolio Standard, which encouraged the development and installation of wind turbine facilities.
Solar sources were 1,131 MW of new capacity, standing at 32.1%. 699 MW (19.8%) came from wind energy, 87 MW (2.5%) came from biomass, 32 MW (0.9%) came from geothermal, and 16 MW (0.5%) came from hydropower. Natural gas makes up the remainder of new capacity, with 1,555 MW (44.1%) installed and no new coal or nuclear plants built.
With the gains made over the last 6 months, renewable sources now make up 16.28% of the US’ total installed generating capacity. This follows the trend of the last 30 months, where from the beginning of 2012 on, renewable sources have created 48% of newly installed generating capacity, for a total of 22,774 MW out of 47,446 MW in new capacity.
Given this trend and the new report, concerns have arisen that the US Energy Information Administration has downplayed the extent of renewable sources being produced, with their estimate of 24% new capacity created from renewable sources from now to 2040 not matching the current numbers.