Government expectations eclipsed by US renewable energy output

Government expectations eclipsed by US renewable energy output


New data from the United States and Scotland has again highlighted the ability of the renewable energy industry to beat expectations, as clean energy again played a major role in meeting power demand on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Two new US federal reports confirmed renewable energy delivered all of the new energy capacity coming online in January, while overall renewable energy output rose two per cent last year, outstripping expectations.

renewable-energy-solar-windThe first 2016 Energy Infrastructure Update report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) confirmed five new wind projects totalling 468 megawatts (MW) and six new solar projects totalling 145MW accounted for 100 per cent of new electrical generation brought into service in January.

The British environmental news website BusinessGreen reports the new projects took renewable energy share of total installed operating generating capacity to 17.93 per cent.

Meanwhile, a separate report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed renewable power output grew by more than two per cent last year and accounted for almost 13.5 per cent of “utility-scale” electrical output in the US last year.

West-Texas-wind-power-recordThe result far exceeded the EIA’s expectations given less than three months ago it had been forecasting that total renewable energy used in the electric power sector would decrease by 1.8 per cent in 2015 as a result of a sharp fall in hydropower generation that would not be offset by an increase in output from other renewable energy.

BusinessGreen reports that in reality, the latest report confirmed non-hydro renewable energy increased 6.9 per cent, comfortably offsetting a smaller than expected fall in hydro output of 3.2 per cent.

panels_solar_serverRenewable energy campaign group SUN DAY, which highlighted the new figures, said the EIA’s underestimate for renewable energy output was part of a trend.

The group highlighted how less than four years ago the EIA predicted US non-hydro renewable energy would provide about 250,000 thousand megawatt-hours in 2015, when in reality output hit 298,358 thousand megawatt-hours from utility-scale facilities alone last year.

Ken-Bossong-executive-director-SUN-DAY-campaign“Just a few years ago EIA had forecast that renewable enrgy might provide 15 per cent of the nation’s electricity by 2035,” said Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign in a statement.

“It now appears that goal could be reached within the next two years and quite possibly sooner.”

In related news, WWF Scotland has published its monthly analysis of renewable output figures from research firm WeatherEnergy revealing wind generated enough output to supply needs of 100 per cent or more of Scottish homes for 19 days in February.

The campaign group said that overall wind power met 41 per cent of Scotland’s entire power demand over the month.

sun-wind-scotland-renewable“It was another strong month for renewable energy, with total wind power output up slightly on the same period last year,” said Karen Robinson of WeatherEnergy.

“And despite it still being officially winter, for the thousands of homes across the country fitted with solar panels, sunshine provided a third or more of an average households’ electricity or hot water needs.”

Lang-Banks-WWF-Scotland-directorWWF Scotland’s director, Lang Banks, called on the next Scottish government to build on the country’s renewable energy success and develop a new strategy for expanding the industry.

“It’s quite amazing to think that during February wind turbines alone quietly provided over 40 per cent of Scotland’s total electricity needs,” he said.

“However, the shift to a low-carbon society not only calls for an increase in the proportion of the nation’s demand met by renewable energy but also a national strategy to reduce demand overall.”