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Renewables provide 97.4% of new US generating capacity in 1Q22

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Energy Global,

According to a review by the SUN DAY Campaign of data recently released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) provided 97.4% of new domestic electrical generating capacity and 24.4% of actual generation during the first three months of 2022.

According to the latest issue of FERC’s ‘Energy Infrastructure Update’ (with date through 31 March 2022), utility scale (i.e. > 1 MW) solar and wind facilities added 1639 MW and 4114 MW respectively. Hydropower provided an additional 5 MW. Natural gas contributed the remaining 154 MW of the 5912 MW in new capacity reported for the 1Q22.

In March alone, wind (1418 MW) and solar (240 MW) accounted for 100% of the new capacity brought online for the month.

Renewables now provide more than a quarter (26.4%) of total US available installed generating capacity – a share significantly greater than that of coal (18.2%) and more than three times that of nuclear power (8.2%). Only natural gas (43.9%) provides a greater share of capacity.

In addition, actual electrical generation by renewable energy sources set new records for both the first quarter and just the month of March.

The latest issue of EIA’s ‘Electric Power Monthly’ report (with data through 31 March 2022) reveals that in the first three months of 2022, renewable energy sources (including small scale solar systems) increased their electrical output by 18.3% compared to the same period a year earlier, and provided 24.4% of total US electrical generation. In March alone, renewables hit a record-shattering share of 27.8%.

For the quarter, electrical generation by solar sources grew by 31.8% while wind increased by 22.9%. Renewables comfortably out-produced both coal and nuclear power by 16.4% and 30.3% respectively.

Notwithstanding current challenges posed by grid access and trade issues, longer-term trends suggest the continued and probably accelerating displacement of coal and nuclear power – as well as natural gas – by renewable energy sources, especially solar and wind.

FERC data indicates that the share of generating capacity from solar and wind is on track to increase significantly over the next three years (i.e., by March 2025.) FERC notes that there may be as much as 183 697 MW of new solar capacity in the pipeline, with 60 288 MW classified as ‘high probability’ additions and no offsetting ‘retirements’. The ‘high probability’ additions alone would nearly double utility scale solar’s current installed capacity of 72 070 MW, while successful completion of all projects in the pipeline would more than triple it.

In addition, new wind capacity by March 2025 could total 72 341 MW, with 18 339 MW being ‘high probability’ and only 151 MW of retirements expected. Thus, installed wind capacity could grow by at least 13% and possibly by much more.

‘High probability’ generation capacity additions for utility scale solar and wind combined, minus anticipated retirements, reflect a projected net increase of 78 416 MW over the next three years, or almost 2200 MW per month. That figure does not include new distributed, small scale solar capacity or additions by hydropower, geothermal, and biomass. By comparison, net growth for natural gas will be only 10 778 MW. Thus, solar and wind together are forecast to provide more than seven times as much new net generating capacity as natural gas by March 2025, not to mention almost 360 times as much net new capacity as nuclear power (projected to add only 218 MW). Coal is forecasted to drop by 30 241 MW.

If just FERC’s latest ‘high probability’ projections materialise, by March 2025, renewable energy sources should provide nearly a third (31.31%) of the nation’s total available installed generating capacity with utility scale solar and wind accounting for 10.09% and 12.00% respectively, or close to a quarter (22.09%) combined.

“2022 has begun as a strong year for solar and wind notwithstanding headwinds such as disruptions in global supply chains, trade disputes, and access to transmission,” noted the SUN DAY Campaign’s Executive Director, Ken Bossong. “Together with other renewable energy sources, they seem poised to become the fastest growing sources of both new capacity and actual generation in 2022.”




For more news and technical articles from the global renewable industry, read the latest issue of Energy Global magazine.

Energy Global's Spring 2022 issue

The Spring 2022 issue of Energy Global includes a range of technical articles on energy storage, wind, solar, waste-to-energy, and more. In addition, this issue also features a regional report on the renewable energy market in Asia.

Read the article online at:

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