Every month the Energy Information Administration releases the Electric Power Monthly report. This week it released the report for December 2014. It showed that the amount of installed, utility-scale solar has more than doubled since 2013 and that wind power generated 4.4 percent of all the electricity consumed in the U.S. in 2014.
The report shows that for the full-year of 2014 the U.S.’s utility-scale solar photovoltaic installations produced 15.9 gigawatt hours of electricity. That’s up from 8.1 gigawatt hours of electricity in 2013. Counting solar thermal power, the U.S. saw 2.4 gigawatt hours of electricity produced in 2014, up from 915 gigawatt hours the year before. In all the solar resources provided 18.3 gigawatt hours in 2014 up from 9.0 gigawatt hours in 2013. In all renewable energy resources provided roughly 13 percent of the nation’s electric needs in 2014.
The EIA figures, however, do not reflect how much solar electricity is coming from distributed energy sources like rooftop solar. That’s becoming a more significant amount, For instance, the most recent GTM Research and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Solar Market Insight report for the third quarter of 2014 showed that more than 300 megawatts of residential solar power came online in that quarter alone. So the amount of solar power generating energy for U.S. consumers is likely higher.
Wind provided much more of the power in 2014. It generated 181.8 gigawatt hours of electricity in the U.S. in 2014. “Wind power generated 4.4 percent of all the electricity in America in 2014 and maintained its position as the fifth largest electricity source in the U.S.,” the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said about the results.
“The U.S. is blessed with an abundant supply of wind energy. Pairing this homegrown resource with continued technology innovation has made the U.S. the home of the most productive wind turbines in the world,” said Emily Williams, Deputy Director of Industry Data and Analysis for AWEA. Analysis released last year found the U.S. is number one in the world in wind energy production.
“Solar still made up less than one-half percent, and wind power only 4.4 percent, of the country’s electricity mix last year,” wrote GTM Research’s Jeff St. John. “But the trends are clearly moving them into a far more important role—particularly in states such as California and Hawaii, where they’re starting to have a significant impact on how utilities and regulators are managing the power grid.”
“Having more clean, affordable wind power than ever is helping to keep the lights on for U.S. homes and businesses,” said Tom Kiernan, AWEA CEO.
The wind industry has stalled in growth somewhat in the past year or two as solar has increased. That’s partly because the Production Tax Credit, which helped support more wind, is in limbo. If Congress renews it, that could change. ”Wind has more than tripled since 2008, it can double from where it is today to 10 percent by 2020, then double again to 20 percent by 2030, and become the leading source of electricity in the U.S. by 2050," Kiernan said.
"However, to get there Congress must provide wind with the same policy certainty it provides to other energy sources by rapidly extending the Production Tax Credit for as long as possible."AWEA is “We have an opportunity to have even more of the U.S. reliably powered by wind, resulting in more well-paying jobs, more benefits for consumers and cleaner air.”Tweet