77–80% of New US Power Capacity Came from Solar & Wind in 2020
According to new data from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) — data derived from Velocity Suite, ABB Inc. and The C Three Group LLC — solar power and wind power accounted for 77.1% of new utility-scale power capacity in the United States in 2020 (chart above). Adding in a CleanTechnica estimate for rooftop solar power capacity, that percentage rises to 80.1% (chart below).
Using the first group of figures (excluding rooftop or small-scale solar power), another 1% of power capacity came from other renewable energy sources and 21.8% came from natural gas.
Using the second group of figures (with a CleanTechnica estimate for rooftop/small-scale solar power), natural gas accounted for 18.9% of new US power capacity in 2020.
In the month of December, 99% of new power capacity came from solar and wind power, while natural gas contributed 1% of new power capacity across the country.
Considering politics for a moment, recall that Donald Trump said he’d revive the coal industry. In actuality, there was no stopping market forces and the coal industry continually collapsed under Trump, including in the last year of his presidency. I will return to the long-term collapse of coal in another article. However, while coal did continue to decline and renewable energy — most notably solar and wind — rose, the growth of solar and wind power slowed under the Trump administration, which had several fossil fuel industry insiders running major US departments — Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior. Under President Biden, solar and wind power are expected to grow faster again. The point is not to beat 80% of new power capacity coming from solar and wind as much as it is to increasingly retire fossil fuel power plants while using more and more electricity from renewable energy sources.
For a closer look at the power capacity additions that were connected to the grid at the end of 2020, these are the utility-scale power projects that went online in December 2020:
- Invenergy LLC’s 522 MW Sagamore Wind Project in Roosevelt County, NM.
- Diamond Spring LLC’s 300 Diamond Spring Wind Project in Johnston County, OK.
- ENGIE North America Inc’s 300 Prairie Hill Wind Project in Mclennan, TX.
- NextEra Energy Resources LLC’s 300 MW White Hills Wind Project in Mohave County, AZ.
- Diamond Trail Wind Energy LLC’s 252.5 MW Diamond Trail Wind Energy Project in Iowa County, IA.
- Amadeus Wind LLC’s 250.1 MW WKN Amadeus Wind Project in Kent County, TX.
- Nobles 2 Power Partners LLC’s 250.0 MW Nobles 2 Wind Farm in Nobles County, MN.
- Skeleton Creek Wind LLC’s 250.0 MW Skeleton Creek Energy Center in Garfield County, OK.
- White Cloud Wind Project LLC’s 236.5 MW White Cloud Wind Project in Nodaway County, MO.
- Raymond Wind Farm LLC’s 201.6 MW Raymond Wind Project in Willacy County, TX.
- Cedar Springs Transmission LLC’s 200.0 MW Cedar Springs Wind II Project in Converse County, WY.
- Cimarron Bend Wind Project III LLC’s 200.0 MW Cimarron Bend Wind III Project in Clark County, KS.
- Ponderosa Wind LLC’s 200.0 MW Ponderosa Wind Energy Center in Beaver County, OK.
- Mountain Breeze Wind LLC’s 170.0 MW Mountain Breeze Wind Project in Weld County, CO.
- Boiling Springs Wind Farm LLC’s 150.0 MW Boiling Springs Wind Farm in Woodward County, OK.
- Gratiot Farms Wind Project LLC’s 150.0 MW Gratiot Farms in Gratiot County, MI.
- Otter Tail Power Co’s 150.0 MW Merricourt Wind Project in Dickey County, ND.
- Rattlesnake Flat LLC’s 144.0 MW Rattlesnake Flat Wind Project in Adams County, WA.
- Cedar Springs Wind III LLC’s 120.0 MW Cedar Springs Wind III Project in Converse County, WY.
- Cedar Springs Wind LLC’s 100.0 MW Cedar Springs Wind Projects in Converse County, WY.
- PacifiCorp’s 100.0 MW Cedar Springs Wind Project in Converse County, WY.
- Portland General Electric Co’s 100.0 MW Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility in Morrow County, OR.
- Horse Thief Wind Project LLC’s 80.0 MW Horse Thief Wind Project in Carbon County, MT.
- Everpower Wind Holdings Inc’s 80.0 MW Mud Springs Wind Ranch in Carbon County, MT.
- Pryor Caves Wind Project LLC’s 80.0 MW Pryor Caves Wind Project in Carbon County, MT.
- Weaver Wind LLC’s 72.6 MW Weaver Wind Project in Hancock County, ME.
- Black Hills Energy’s 40.0 MW Corriedale Wind Energy Project in Laramie County, WY.
- Langford Wind Power LLC’s 5.0 MW Langford Wind Power Project in Irion County, TX.
- ENGIE Long Draw Solar LLC’s 225.0 MW Long Draw Solar Project in Borden County, TX.
- Hardin Solar Holdings LLC’s 150.0 MW Hardin Wind Energy Center in Hardin County, OH.
- Saint Solar LLC’s 100.0 MW Saint Solar Project in Pinal County, AZ.
- Florida Power & Light Co’s 74.5 MW Egret Solar Center in Baker County, FL.
- Florida Power & Light Co’s 74.5 MW Lakeside Solar Center in Okeechobee County, FL.
- Florida Power & Light Co’s 74.5 MW Nassau Solar Center in Nassau County, FL.
- Florida Power & Light Co’s 74.5 MW Trailside Solar Center in Saint John County, FL.
- Florida Power & Light Co’s 74.5 MW Union Springs Solar Center in Union County, FL.
- Titan Solar 1 LLC’s 50.0 MW Titan Solar 1 Project in Imperial County, CA.
- BT Kellam Solar LLC’s 61.0 MW Kellam Solar Project in Van Zandt County, TX.
- BT Cooke Solar LLC’s 61.0 MW Rippey Solar Project in Cooke County, TX.
- OR Holdings LLC’s 12.7 MW Agate Bay Solar Project in Jackson County, OR.
- CTX Holdco LLC’s 10.0 MW Catan Solar Project in Karnes County, TX.
- Madison Gas & Electric 8.0 MW Dane County Regional Arpt Solar Project in Dane County, WI.
- Spencer Tioga Solar LLC’s 6.0 MW Pasto Solar Photovoltaic Project 11661 in Tioga County, NY.
- Spencer Tioga Solar LLC’s 6.0 MW Pasto Solar Photovoltaic Project 10994 in Tioga County, NY.
- Spencer Tioga Solar LLC’s 6.0 MW Pasto Solar Photovoltaic Project 10996 in Tioga County, NY.
- Los Palos Street Operating LLC’s 5.5 MW solar powered Preferred Freezer Big Bear Project in Los Angeles County,
Notice the trend?
Total installed power capacity in the country still shows the dominance of fossil fuels — natural gas and coal. I’ll come back to that soon in our next US Electricity Generation Report.
To close, here’s an interactive option for 3 of the charts above as well as a 2019 capacity addition chart: