coal plant

In April, the revolution in the capacity of renewable power broke a record. FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) released its EIU, (Energy Infrastructure Update) containing their research data for the year 2019 up to and including April.

“That was enough to push renewable energy’s share of total available installed U.S. generating capacity up to 21.56%. By comparison, coal’s share dropped to 21.55% (down from 23.04% a year ago),” according to a press release by the nonprofit SUN DAY Campaign.

According to the aforementioned press release, the FERC reports data only for utility-scale facilities or those with rating greater than1-MV. This means that the data does not include the capacity of distributed renewables. This includes rooftop solar PV which accounts for 30% of solar electrical generation in the US, according to the EIA. This thus infers that at least 4% of the total renewable energy consumed. As of May 20, this number is estimated to rise by greater than 20,000 MW.

This trend seems to be set in stone, despite the fact that the EIU predicts a dead tie for capacity between renewable energy and coal. Both natural gas and renewables will keep gaining a share in the market at the expenditure of coal, if recent history is any indication of the foreseeable future.

It must be duly noted that this capacity does not equate to generation, as coal generates more electricity than renewables due to the unpredictable nature of the latter. However, these recent trends give the indication that this will change over the course of time.

Natural gas is still at the head of the class, however. Regardless of the fact that up until 2022, renewable capacity additions are predicted lead natural gas additions. Despite this predicted outcome, natural gas will most likely be the top source of power in the US for the foreseeable future.

The EIU stated that currently, natural gas makes up for 44.44% of the total capacity for installed power. The Energy Information Administration findings reveal that over the last twelve months, 36% of power in the US has been natural gas, which far surpasses 27% of the same for coal. But it won’t be long before renewable power supply far surpasses both natural gas and goal to become the main supplier of power for the United States.