New Q1 US solar installs fall by one third



US energy regulator, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), has revealed that 584MW of new large-scale solar energy capacity was installed in the first quarter of 2014.

FERC’s Office of Energy Projects’ energy infrastructure update for March 2014 reported that just for the month of March, 151MW of new solar generation from nine projects was brought online.

In total from January to March 2014, 47 new solar projects came online with a generating capacity of 584MW.

This is in comparison to the same period last year, when 66 solar projects totalling 877MW came online.

However, solar still leads renewables generation by some distance, with only 93MW of wind, 1MW of hydro and zero geothermal and biomass recorded for March.

For January to March, 427MW of wind, 8MW of hydro, 10MW of biomass and 30MW of geothermal came online.

The running total for already operational, generating solar capacity in the US ended in March at 8.67GW, accounting for 0.75% of all installed energy capacity in the US.

Wind accounts for 5.27%, with 61GW, biomass for 1.37% with 15.8GW, and geothermal behind solar with 3.8GW. Hydro has the biggest percentage, with 99.6GW installed, accounting for 8.58% of the total.

In total, renewables without hydro accounted for 7.72% of total operational capacity in the US, according to FERC. Including hydro power, renewables account for 16.3%.

Renewables exceed oil, which accounts for 4.04% of US energy capacity with 46.8GW installed so far, and also nuclear’s share of 9.25% with 107GW installed. But coal, with 28.5% of the energy pie from 330.6GW installed, and the majority percentage of natural gas, with 41.8% from 484.6GW, still accounts for most of the US’s current energy supply.

Zero new coal, oil and nuclear projects came online between January to March this year, and just two natural gas projects totalling 90MW were recorded by FERC for the quarter. This is a dramatic decrease from the 11 natural gas plants recorded last year, totalling 359MW.

According to FERC, the US installed 504MW of solar power capacity in October

The latest update also highlighted two solar projects in North Carolina that came online, the 5MW Daniel Farm Solar project in Davie County, generating power under a long term contract for utility Duke Energy Carolinas, and the 5MW Roxboro Solar project in Person County, generating power for Progress Energy Carolinas also under long-term contract.

In California, solar power for utility Pacific Gas and Electric came online, with the 6MW Shasta Solar Farm project in Shasta County, and the 125 MW Genesis Solar Energy Project, Phase 2 in Riverside County.

Also the 4MW Alamo II Solar project in Bexar County, Texas and the 2MW Winchendon Solar project in Worcester County, Massachusetts are both now online.

Last week the US secretary of State, John Kerry, called for more low carbon energy generation, in the wake of the IPCC draft report which named solar as the most technologically feasible energy generation to combat climate change.

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