Renewable Energy

Power grid taking on more renewables amid policy, technical challenges

GarettTT / Creative Commons

ST PAUL, MN — “Renewable energy accounted for nearly two-thirds of new power sources on the U.S. electric grid in 2016, according to data released this month by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). It marks the third consecutive year that wind, solar and other renewables made up more than half of new generating capacity on the shifting U.S. power system.

Energy companies added 24 gigawatts of capacity — roughly the equivalent of a dozen new Hoover Dams — to the power grid last year, according to EIA’s preliminary data. Sixty-three percent of the new capacity was based on renewable technologies.

Western U.S. states continue to dominate in hydroelectric and solar power, while the Midwest leads the nation in wind production, according to EIA. Last year, the Midwest (as defined by the U.S. Census) accounted for more than a third of the country’s wind power output.

The findings reaffirm the broad trend toward a U.S. power supply that is more reliant on distributed, virtually carbon-free energy sources.

‘The utility business is going to be leaning more and more on renewables,’ says George Gross, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. ‘It’s still going to be the dominant source of new capacity. Nobody in their sane mind … is going to invest in coal.'”

— David J. Unger, Midwest Energy News

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