Renewables Account for All New Electricity Generation Capacity in August

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A total of 463 megawatts of electric power generation plants were added to the U.S. fleet in August, and 100% of the addition came from renewable solar and wind energy sources. Solar additions accounted for 55% of the new capacity and wind additions added the remaining 45%.

The largest project to come online in August was the 200-megawatt Los Vientos IV wind farm near Rio Grande City, Texas. The project is the last of five solar projects built by Duke Energy Renewables at this site. All told, the Los Vientos projects generate 912 megawatts of electricity, more than half Duke’s total of 1,563 megawatts in all of Texas.

The second-largest project completed in August was the 77-megawatt White Oak Solar PV unit in Georgia built by NextEra Energy. Five of the next six largest projects to come online in August were located in California and totaled 131 megawatts. The sixth was a Georgia PV unit with generating capacity of 23 megawatts.

Only two additional wind projects came online in August: an 8-megawatt wind farm in Massachusetts and a 1-megawatt installation in Utah.

The data were published Monday by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

When the U.S. Congress approved an extension of the 30% residential solar investment tax credit through 2019 with phased reductions through 2021 before dropping to zero, the move ignited interest in solar energy. Combined with lower prices for solar modules, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) expects solar generation capacity to reach 98,000 megawatts by 2020 to meet 3.5% of all U.S. demand for electricity. In 2010 solar energy accounted for just 0.1% of all use generation capacity.