About half of new U.S. power came from renewables last year

Renewable power in the United States setting records, though reliability issues surfaced last year during the August solar eclipse.

BE2C2 Report– About half of the new utility-scale power on the U.S. grid last year came from renewables and most of that was in the fourth quarter, the government said.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said its data combing so far shows 25 gigawatts of new electricity was added to the grid last year, with about half of that coming from renewable energy resources like wind and solar.

“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,” the EIA’s briefing read.

Between March and May last year, total monthly electricity generation from renewable energy beat nuclear power for the first time in 33 years. But in August, the solar eclipse that darkened mid-day skies across much of the country crimped output from solar power plants.

The EIA’s report said the Aug. 21 eclipse pushed solar power in California, a state with one of the more robust renewable programs, to 60 percent below normal.

The report followed a decision from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to probe grid reliability. The FERC decision was in response to an April call from Energy Secretary Rick Perry for an investigation into the resilience and reliability of a grid more dependent on variable power sources like wind and solar.

Meanwhile, a report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association– a solar power trade group based in the USA says the Trump administration was standing in the way of growth. The report found the pace of growth was slower than last year.

Through the end of the third quarter, researchers found solar power installations are behind pace from the same period last year by 22 percent.

“The solar industry is a resilient bunch, but this quarter shows us what happens when policy uncertainty becomes a disruptive factor: prices rise, supplies shift and the market reacts accordingly,” Abigail Ross Hopper, the president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in a statement.

A comprehensive study by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that the U.S. can generate most of its electricity from renewable energy by 2050.

The Renewable Electricity Futures Study found that an 80 percent renewables future is feasible with currently available technologies, including wind turbines, solar photovoltaics, concentrating solar power, biopower, geothermal, and hydropower.

The study also demonstrates that a high renewables scenario can meet electricity demand across the country every hour of every day, year-round.

Variable resources such as wind and solar power can provide up to about half of U.S. electricity, with the remaining 30 percent from other renewable sources.

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