Renewable Roundup: Solar and wind dominate new energy installations (even after the Coronavirus)
Yet another tipping point passed in new renewable electricity installations. We have to finish off finishing off coal, then the gas Ponzi scheme, and ramp up EV usage, helped by covid-19, fracking bankruptcies, the global oil and gas price wars, increasing divestment…and of course the fact that renewables are cheaper than destroying the planet—I mean, preserving fossil fuel entitlement fever.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest inventory of electric generators, EIA expects 42 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity additions to start commercial operation in 2020. Solar and wind represent almost 32 GW, or 76%, of these additions.
Adam Smith and non-Voodoo economics
Have I mentioned recently how savage supposed Free Market Apostle Adam Smith was about subsidies and other unwarranted favors to corporations?
We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those of the workman. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject.
Our merchants and master-manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their goods both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.
The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”
The government of an exclusive company of merchants is, perhaps, the worst of all governments for any country whatever.
I am accordingly willing to dispense with subsidies and other preferences for renewable energy as soon as we get rid of the disastrous support we have given to death by carbon for centuries. In the meantime, we need carbon taxes to offset carbon subsidies, or something more.
Now, Where Were We?
Solar, wind and hydropower provided 85.7% of new U.S. electric generating capacity during the first two months of 2020 – notably more than natural gas.The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) latest monthly Energy Infrastructure Update report (with data through Feb. 29) reveals that wind and solar are on track to each provide more new generating capacity than natural gas over the next three years. Moreover, the mix of all renewables (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) will add nearly 51 GW of new generating capacity to the nation’s total by February 2023 – while that of natural gas, coal, oil and nuclear power combined will actually decrease by almost 2 GW.
During the first two months of this year, 38 new units of solar totaling 987 MW were added to the U.S.’ total energy generating capacity, accompanied by four units of wind (303 MW) and three units of hydropower (13 MW). By comparison, FERC reported only 218 MW (or seven units) of natural gas. There were no new capacity additions by coal, oil, nuclear, biomass or geothermal energy.
Renewable energy sources now account for 22.6% of the nation’s total available installed generating capacity and continue to expand their lead over coal (20.62%). The generating capacity of just wind and solar is now at 12.58% of the nation’s total – and that does not include distributed solar.
In addition, FERC data suggest that renewables’ share of generating capacity should increase significantly over the next three years. “High probability” generation capacity additions for wind, minus anticipated retirements, reflect a projected net increase of 26,167 MW, while solar is foreseen growing by 22,593 MW. By comparison, net growth for natural gas will be only 21,822 MW.
“The impacts of the global coronavirus crisis and the wild gyrations in international oil prices have yet to be reflected in FERC’s data,” says Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign.
(Crossposted with DailyKos.)