According to newly disclosed FERC data, utility-scale solar and wind are on target to provide wind and solar will be 25% of the US’s installed electrical generating capacity within three years.
According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) most recent monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” (with data through May 31, 2023), wind now accounts for 11.63% of total installed generating capacity, with utility-scale solar accounting for the remaining 6.86%.
FERC predicts “high probability additions” of solar to provide an additional 80,087 megawatts (MW) during the next three years, by May 2026, while wind is predicted to expand by 19,816 MW.
If that happens in three years, wind energy will account for 12.43% of installed capacity, with utility-scale solar accounting for the remaining 12.41%. That doesn’t even take into account the generating power given by small-scale, distributed solar, such as rooftop solar.
Solar and wind might account for a much larger share of US electrical generating capacity if new capacity exceeds FERC’s prediction of “high probability additions.” According to the EPA, the amount of solar and wind in the pipeline over the next three years may be roughly three times the total of the “high probability additions.” Solar could increase by 214,022 MW, while wind might increase by 66,065 MW.
Furthermore, recent history indicates that solar and wind growth are surpassing FERC projections. FERC predicted “high-probability additions” of 18,711 MW and 62,835 MW for wind and solar within three years a year ago. The current three-year prediction for those sources from FERC is now 22.5% higher.
There is already evidence of potential expansion. Wind and solar accounted for 51.07% of new capacity additions in the first five months of 2023, with 4,460 MW of solar and 2.645 MW of wind. Hydropower (254 MW), geothermal (37 MW), and biomass (29 MW) capacity additions increased renewables’ combined share of new capacity to 53.38%. Natural gas provided the balance, with the exception of 2 MW from oil.
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