Of all the new electric generation installed in the U.S. the largest source was wind power, which saw 8.1 gigawatts of new installations in 2015—41 percent of all new electric generation, according to recent data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The data also showed that 5.1 gigawatts of solar photovoltaics were installed, accounting for 26 percent of the U.S.’s new electric generation last year.
The other major contributor to new electric generation was natural gas, which accounted for 5.9 gigawatts of new electric generation, according to EIA’s preliminary data. “The trend of wind, natural gas, and solar additions making up most new capacity is likely to continue in 2016,” EIA stated.
Except for solar power, EIA said the data reflected facilities with a net summer capacity of one megawatt and above. EIA started reporting data on rooftop solar power in 2015. “The data also show a record amount of distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity was added on rooftops throughout the country in 2015,” EIA said.
The numbers aren’t as high as those reported by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in their U.S. Solar Market Insight Report 2015 Year in Review. That report found that the U.S. installed 7.3 gigawatts of solar power in 2015. That report said the U.S. installed more than 2 gigawatts of rooftop solar, 4 gigawatts of utility-scale solar and commercial solar installed just over 1 gigawatt of solar.
The EIA’s data showed that the U.S. installed 2.9 gigawatts of utility-scale photovoltaics and 2.2 gigawatts of distributed solar power. It also noted that 110 megawatts of solar thermal power came online last year. The numbers were up significantly for distributed solar in 2014, which saw 1.5 gigawatts of new solar. On the other hand EIA’s data showed that 3.3 gigawatts of utility-scale solar panels were installed in 2014.
As usual, California led the way in overall installations, according to EIA. “California added more than 1,000 MW each of utility-scale and distributed solar PV capacity, accounting for 42 percent of overall solar additions in 2015.” However, North Carolina was second and added 720 MW of utility-scale PV.
“Distributed PV saw significant growth in 2015, particularly in the residential sector, where total installed capacity rose much faster over the year than in the industrial or commercial sectors,” EIA said. “While still far behind top distributed solar PV states, several states saw notable growth in 2015, including Nevada, where distributed PV capacity more than doubled from 49 MW to 129 MW.”Tweet