Today in Energy

January 10, 2018

Nearly half of utility-scale capacity installed in 2017 came from renewables

graph of utility-scale capacity additions and utility-scale renewable capacity additions, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-860M, Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory

Once final data are in, EIA expects about 25 gigawatts (GW) of new utility-scale electric generating capacity to have been added to the power grid during 2017, nearly half of which use renewable technologies, especially wind and solar. Another 3.5 GW of small-scale solar net capacity additions are estimated to have come online in 2017.

Of the renewable capacity additions in 2017, more than half came online during the fourth quarter. Renewable capacity additions are often highest in the final months of the year, in part because of timing qualifications for federal, state, or local tax incentives. Estimated fourth-quarter capacity additions for 2017 are based on planned additions reported to EIA and are subject to change based on actual project completions.

Monthly U.S. renewable electricity generation peaked in March at 67.5 billion kilowatthours, or 21% of total utility-scale electricity generation. In late spring, the melting snowpack from a winter characterized by higher-than-average levels of precipitation increased hydroelectric generation, while strong wind resources in March also produced a peak in monthly wind generation for the year.

Most renewable generation in 2017 came from the Western census division, which accounted for the majority of the hydroelectric (67%) and solar (69%) generation. Wind generation was more evenly spread across the country in 2017, with 37% occurring in the Midwest, 37% in the South, 21% in the West, and the remaining 4% in the Northeast.

graph of monthly renewable electricity generation by census region, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly

Other renewable electricity highlights in 2017

Principal contributor: Cara Marcy