Renewable energy capacity surpasses coal, gap expected to widen

CASPER, Wyo. — Installed renewable energy capacity has surpassed coal as a source of power in the United States, and that gap is set to widen.

As a source of energy, coal has a “total available installed generating capacity” of 257.48 GW (GigaWatts), which translates to 21.88% of overall capacity.

That compares with about 257.53 GW of installed generating capacity from renewable sources.

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That is according to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Energy Infrastructure Update for April 2019.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Renewable sources of energy mentioned in the report include installed capacities of 100.44 GW of water power, 98.62 GW of wind, 38.54 GW of solar, 16.10 GW of biomass and 3.83 GW of geothermal steam.

The report also shows that proposed new additions and retirements of energy generation is likely to see renewables continue to outpace coal.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

While an additional 867 MW (MegaWatts) of coal generation is expected to be added by May 2022, 13,276 MW of coal power is set to retire in the same time frame.

Over that time span, the report says that an additional 101,395 MW of installed wind capacity is expected to be added along with 84,673 MW of solar.

The U.S. could see another 15,112 MW of water power, 913 MW of geothermal steam and 626 MW of biomass.

With the exception of geothermal steam, these renewable energy sources are expected to see some retirements totaling 915 MW.

If these projections prove to be accurate, coal will see a net loss of 12,409 MW of installed generation by May 2022. That would compare with a net addition of 201,804 MW of installed renewable capacity.

While coal is on the decline, natural gas continues to be America’s main source of installed generation capacity.

The 531.08 GW of installed natural gas capacity accounted for 44.44% of total installed capacity in the April report.

An additional 61,018 GW of natural gas could be added by May 2022, while 10,171 MW are expected to be retired by that time.