In a sign of the steady and sure progress being made by renewables, the federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the US has estimated that over 97% of the new generation capacity added in the US in the first quarter of 2022 was solar and wind energy. However, in terms of generation, the two added upto over 24%.
Building further on its estimates of high 'probability' additions in wind and solar , which it places at 78,416 MW for the next 3 years, would lead to additions of over 2 .2 GW each month from here on. High probability is as opposed to a pipeline off almost 180 GW. So if the pipeline was to convert, then existing capacity of over 72 GW would easily more than double in three years. However, with the impact of tariffs, higher prices and supply side disruptions still roiling the markets, a significant level of capacity is already in doubt.
Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) on the other hand, indicates that renewable energy sources (including residential solar) increased their electrical output in Q1 by 18.3% compared to the same period a year earlier, and provided 24.4% of total U.S. electrical generation. In March alone, renewables hit 27.8%.
For the quarter, electrical generation by solar sources grew by 31.8% while wind increased by 22.9%. Renewables comfortably out-produced both coal and nuclear power by 16.4% and 30.3%, respectively.
Detractors have been skeptical of the ability of renewables backed capacity additions to meet rising demand, or even demand vacated by retiring coal and even nuclear plants. A consensus seems to be building in favour of preserving the remaining nuclear fleet at least, as gas prices rise higher and burning it for producing power increasingly seems like a poor decision cost wise and from a sustainability perspective. Considering the many other areas where use of gas remains indispensable.