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Renewable energy sources - including biomass, geothermal, solar, hydro and wind - accounted for 49.10% of all new U.S. electrical generating capacity installed in the 12 months of 2012, for a total of 12,956 MW, finds the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) latest Energy Infrastructure Update report. More than a quarter of that new capacity (25.29% - 3,276 MW) came online in December 2012 alone.

Wind led the way in 2012, with 164 new "units" totaling 10,689 MW, followed by solar, with 240 units totaling 1,476 MW. Biomass added 100 new units totaling 543 MW, while geothermal steam and water each had 13 new units with installed capacities of 149 MW and 99 MW, respectively.

By comparison, for the full 12 months of 2012, new natural-gas generation in service totaled 8,746 MW (33.15%) followed by coal (4,510 MW - 17.09%), nuclear (125 MW - 0.47%) and oil (49 MW - 0.19%).

New capacity from renewable energy sources in 2012 increased by 51.16% compared to 2011, when those sources added 8,571 MW. In 2011, renewables accounted for 39.33% of all new in-service generation capacity.

Renewable sources now account for 15.40% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: hydro (8.47%), wind (4.97%), biomass (1.30%), solar ( 0.34%) and geothermal (0.32%). This is more than nuclear (9.24%) and oil (3.57%) combined.

“If there were still any lingering doubts about the ability of renewable energy technologies to come online quickly and in amounts sufficient to displace fossil fuels and nuclear power, the 2012 numbers have put those doubts to rest,” says Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, a nonprofit research firm that promotes sustainable energy technologies. “Not only has renewable energy become a major player in the U.S. electrical generation market, but it has also emerged in 2012 as the reigning champion.”

To view the full FERC report, click here.




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