Solar Adds 11.1GWs in 2016 as Wind, Solar Provide Most of US’ New Energy

Solar Adds 11.1GWs in 2016 as Wind, Solar Provide Most of US’ New Energy

by on in Alternative Energy, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy

Last year was a big year in energy for the US. In the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) most recent Electric Power Monthly report it said that more than 27 gigawatts (GWs) of electric generating capacity was added to the US power grid in 2016—the most since 2011. Of that more than 60 percent came from utility-scale wind (8.7 GW) and solar (7.7 GW) projects—a total of 16.4 GWs. 

The EIA also reported that 3.4 GWs of rooftop solar came online in 2016 as well—so solar accounted for a total of 11.1 GWs of new electric generation in 2016. Preliminary results of the U.S. Solar Market Insight Report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) say the amount of solar installed last year was even higher, at 14.6 GWs across the USEIA's new utility-scale energy capacity in US

Looking at EIA’s data PV Magazine’s Christian Roselund said the data shows that solar grew nearly 40 percent last year, going from 1 percent of the US’ energy source in 2015 to 1.4 percent in 2016. “Wind is likewise growing, with the share of electricity from wind rising from 4.7% in 2015 to 5.5% of all generation last year,” Roselund wrote. “Boosted by the growing share of solar and wind, 2016 serves as the second year where non-hydro renewable sources generated more electricity than hydroelectric plants. This likewise brought the overall share of renewable energy in the nation’s generation to 15.3% during the year.”

While the US brought more than 27 new gigawatts of electric generation online last year it retired 12 GWs of electric generation. So solar power alone almost replaced all of that energy. Most of which came from small, low-efficiency coal-fired power plants, EIA said.

“The mix of capacity additions has changed considerably in recent years,” EIA said. Natural gas had added most of the new capacity from 2002 to 2006. Since then renewables have been increasing their share more rapidly. 

“Large amounts of new utility-scale wind capacity started entering the market in 2007 and have since averaged 7 GW per year, despite occasional lapses in available tax credits. With the exception of 2014, annual utility-scale solar additions have increased in each year since 2008,” EIA stated. “About 7.7 GW of utility-scale solar was added in 2016—the most ever. The amount of utility-scale solar capacity added in 2016 alone was greater than all utility-scale solar that had been added through 2013.”

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