Wind Installations Boom, Exceed New Utility-Scale Solar in 2014

On January 29, 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released the Energy Infrastructure Report with data through December 2014. The report shows natural gas, wind, and solar represented more than 95% of the new utility-scale capacity installed in the United States in 2014. Natural gas was the primary source of new generation with wind and solar ranking second and third, respectively.

Key Details

  • Natural gas was the largest source of new generation capacity, accounting for 7,485 MW or 49% of all new utility-scale generation installed in 2014
  • The wind industry has experienced a boom-and-bust cycle tied to the federal production tax credit (PTC):
    • Wind additions were limited to 1,690 MW in 2013 following a temporary expiration of the PTC at the end of 2012
    • An extension and revision of the PTC in January 2013 revived the industry, resulting in 4,080 MW or 27% of new wind capacity in 2014
  • Solar accounted for 20% of new capacity in 2014 but experienced a decline from 2013
    • Solar set a record in 2013 with several large utility-scale solar projects coming online the U.S. southwest
    • The data represents utility-scale projects and does not reflect new capacity from distributed solar resource
  • Coal dropped significantly as one project added 106 MW in 2014 compared to 1,543 MW from two projects in 2013

New Generation In-Service (New Build and Expansion)

New Generation In-Service (New Build and Expansion)

Source: FERC

Implications

While natural gas will remain the dominant source of new generation, significant additions from wind and solar are also expected over the next two years. Congress recently extended the PTC to projects beginning construction in 2014. Consequently, the majority of 12,000 MW of wind capacity under development will qualify for the PTC. Solar development will see an uptick as projects are constructed to take advantage of the 30% federal investment tax credit, which will decline to 10% for commercial projects in 2017.

More Information

This report is part of the Clean Tech & Sustainability Minute series. To view all featured Minutes, please click here.

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Contributing Authors

Paul Quinlan Clean Tech Manager

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