According to a federal report ,“Energy Infrastructure Update”, 900MW of wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower was installed in the US, compared to 300MW of natural gas.

Wind power was the leading technology, with more than 600MW of new capacity added.

“The trend lines for the past several years have been consistent and unmistakable,” said Ken Bossong, the executive director of the US renewables lobby group Sun Day Campaign. “Each month, renewable energy sources – particularly wind and solar – increase their share of the nation’s generating capacity while those of coal, oil, and nuclear decline.”

Have renewables ‘won the war’?

Renewable energy sources accounted for half of all new US generating capacity in 2014, but still accounts for less than a fifth of total installed capacity. However, at 17%, renewable capacity is now greater than nuclear (9%) and oil (4%) combined.

Around the world, 143GW of clean electricity generation was brought online in 2013, compared to 141GW of fossil-fuel plants. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) now expects that gap to widen and by 2030, four times as much renewable capacity will be added. 

However some analysts were quick to pour cold water on the idea that “fossil fuels have lost the war”, arguing that one gigawatt of solar is not equal to one gigawatt of fossil-fuel capacity. 

Capacity is defined as the maximum output a power plant can produce under specific conditions. It is not same as how much electricity a power plant will actually generate in its lifetime.

So while a coal plant could run around the clock and produce around 50-80% of its stated capacity, solar panels usually produce around 20% of their maximum output.

In total 9.1% of the world’s electricity came from renewable sources last year, up from 8.5% in 2013. 

Brad Allen

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