FROM THE CREW: RE Outpacing Fossil Fuel


While exciting renewable energy news cropping up in my inbox isn’t unusual, some of the recent sources are. For example, take this March 1, 2016, statement from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA):

Electric generating facilities expect to add more than 26 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale generating capacity to the power grid during 2016. Most of these additions come from three resources: solar (9.5 GW), natural gas (8.0 GW), and wind (6.8 GW), which together make up 93% of total additions. If actual additions ultimately reflect these plans, 2016 will be the first year in which utility-scale solar additions exceed additions from any other single energy source.

So why is this projection so exciting? Let’s consider how renewables stacked up last year. According to the Solar Market Insight 2015 Year in Review/Q4 2015 published by SEIA and GTM Research:

For the first time ever, solar beat out natural gas capacity additions, with solar supplying 29.4% of all new electric generating capacity brought on-line in the U.S. in 2015.

The same report also shows that wind power additions accounted for 39% of all new generating capacity, while natural gas additions accounted for 29%. Coal wasn’t even on the chart for 2015.

That brings us back to 2016—how are energy capacity additions from renewables comparing with fossil fuels thus far? The Solar Market Insight Q1 2016 reports that in the first three months of 2016, 1,665 MW of solar came online, representing 64% of all new capacity additions. The remaining 33% came from wind; 1% from natural gas; and 3% from “other” (which includes biomass and hydro). So far, renewable energy capacity additions are substantially outpacing conventional energy sources.

Since homes are our focus here at Home Power, let’s take a look at the residential PV market. Again referencing Solar Market Insight, residential PV was cited as the fastest-growing sector in U.S. solar, and that market had:

2,099 MW (DC) installed in 2015, representing 66% growth over 2014. The residential PV market experienced its largest annual growth rate to date, an impressive feat given that 2015 marked the fourth consecutive year of greater than 50% annual growth.

So why is this so exciting? It’s a strong sign that the renewable energy revolution has finally arrived in the United States. You too can be a part of this revolution. With the average installed PV system pricing hovering at $3.20/W combined with the extension of the federal 30% solar investment tax credit—and possibly even more local or state RE incentives—the timing could be perfect for your home to be next!

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