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Wind and solar provide 67% of new US electrical generating capacity in first half of 2022

Clean energy accounted for more than two-thirds of the new US electrical generating capacity added during the first six months of 2022, according to data recently released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Wind (5,722 megawatts) and solar (3,895 MW) provided 67.01% of the 14,352 MW in utility-scale (that is, greater than 1 MW) capacity that came online during the first half of 2022.

Additional capacity was provided by geothermal (26 MW), hydropower (7 MW), and biomass (2 MW). The balance came from natural gas (4,695 MW) and oil (5 MW). No new capacity was reported for 2022 from either nuclear power or coal.

This brings clean energy’s share of total US available installed generating capacity up to 26.74%. To put that in perspective, five years ago, clean energy’s share was 19.7%. Ten years ago, it was 14.76%. 

FERC reports that there may be as much as 192,507 MW of new solar capacity on the way, with 66,315 MW classified as “high-probability” additions and no offsetting “retirements.”

The “high-probability” additions alone would nearly double utility-scale solar’s current installed capacity of 74,530 MW, while successful completion of all expected projects would nearly quadruple it.

Notably, FERC’s forecast predates President Joe Biden signing into law the Inflation Reduction Act, and that will likely ramp up solar growth even more. 

In addition, new wind capacity by June 2025 could total 70,393 MW, with 17,383 MW being “high probability” and only 158 MW of retirements expected. Thus, installed wind capacity could grow by at least 12%.

“High-probability” generation capacity additions for utility-scale solar and wind combined, minus anticipated retirements, reflect a projected net increase of 83,540 MW over the next three years, or over 2,300 MW per month. That figure does not include new distributed, small-scale solar capacity or additions by hydropower, geothermal, and biomass.  

SUN DAY Campaign’s executive director Ken Bossong, who reviewed and reported on the data, said in an emailed statement:

With each new monthly Infrastructure report from FERC, the prospects for renewable sources, especially solar and wind, brighten while those for natural gas, coal, and nuclear power continue to slide. By the end of this decade, the mix of renewable energy sources should constitute the largest share of the nation’s electrical generating capacity.


Article by: Michelle Lewis

Via: https://electrek.co/2022/08/15/wind-solar-provide-67-of-new-us-electrical-generating-capacity-in-first-half-of-2022/

Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

solar panel water vapor

These Solar Panels Also Pull In Water Vapor To Grow Crops In The Desert

Using a unique hydrogel, scientists in Saudi Arabia have successfully drawn water out of the dry air for growing spinach—while producing electricity from the solar panels that power it all.

The system offers a sustainable, low-cost strategy to improve food and water security for people living in dry-climate regions.

“A fraction of the world’s population still doesn’t have access to clean water or green power, and many of them live in rural areas with an arid or semi-arid climate,” says Peng Wang, a professor of environmental science and engineering at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. “Our design makes water out of air using clean energy that would’ve been wasted and is suitable for decentralized, small-scale farms in remote places like deserts and oceanic islands.”

The system, called WEC2P, is composed of a solar photovoltaic panel placed atop a layer of hydrogel, which is mounted on top of a large metal box to condense and collect water. Wang and his team developed the hydrogel in their prior research—a material that can effectively absorb water vapor from ambient air and release the water content when heated.

The researchers used the waste heat from solar panels when generating electricity to drive absorbed water out of the hydrogel. The metal box below collects the vapor and condenses the gas into water.

Additionally, the hydrogel increases the efficiency of solar photovoltaic panels by as much as 9% because it absorbs the heat and lowers the panels’ temperature.

solar panel water vapor
CREDIT Renyuan Li, CC BY-SA

The team conducted a plant-growing test by using WEC2P in Saudi Arabia for two weeks in June when the weather was very hot. They used the water solely collected from air to irrigate 60 water spinach seeds planted in a plastic plant-growing box.

Over the course of the experiment, the solar panel, with a size similar to the top of a student desk, generated a total of 1,519 watt-hours of electricity, and 57 out of 60 of the water spinach seeds sprouted and grew normally to 18 centimeters. In total, about 2 liters of water were condensed from the hydrogel over the two-week period.

“Our goal is to create an integrated system of clean energy, water, and food production, especially the water-creation part in our design, which sets us apart from current agrophotovoltaics,” (also known as agrivoltaics) says, Wang.

To turn the proof-of-concept design into an actual product, the team plans to create a better hydrogel that can absorb more water from the air.

“Making sure everyone on Earth has access to clean water and affordable clean energy is part of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations,” Wang says. “I hope our design can be a decentralized power and water system to light homes and water crops.”

The proof-of-concept design was described in the March 1 peer-reviewed journal of Cell Reports Physical Science.


Article by: Good News Network

Via: https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/solar-panels-pull-in-water-vapor-to-grow-crops-in-desert/

energy solar wind

Here comes the sun: Wind, solar power account for record 13% of U.S. energy in 2021

Solar and wind energy last year grew at the fastest rate in U.S. history and now account for a record 13% of the nation’s power generation, according to a report released Thursday.

Coming on the heels of Monday’s grim United Nations report warning that humanity must act now to curb rising temperatures caused by the burning of fossil fuels, the new Sustainable Energy in America Factbook offered some good news about what already is being done.

“It was not that long ago that critics of clean energy would snicker and say that its contributions amounted to a rounding error compared to total generation,” said Ethan Zindler, head of the Americas for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research company that has been producing the report annually for the past 10 years. “That’s definitely no longer the case. Anyone who still calls clean energy ‘alternative energy’ is just so, so 2009.”

Renewable energy production, predominantly from hydroelectric dams, solar arrays, and wind turbines, grew more than 4% year-over-year in 2021. When nuclear energy is added, carbon-neutral energy sources met 40% of U.S. demand. 

“Ten years ago that would have been unfathomable. Six years ago, people would have been incredulous,” said Dan Whitten, vice president for public affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association.

As U.S. power generation becomes cleaner and more of it comes from renewable sources, power sector carbon emissions have been dropping steadily. Last year they were 35% below 2005 levels. 

solar energy

The Biden administration has adopted a goal of net-zero carbon emissions for the U.S. economy by 2050, and Congress has approved $80 billion for investment in the transition to carbon-neutral energy. However, several large infrastructure bills, including President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which featured multiple clean energy policies, are stalled. 

Natural gas remains the largest single source of U.S. electricity generation, accounting for 38%. Power from coal-fired power plants rose slightly in 2021, to 22%. Yet despite that increase, coal’s portion of the U.S. energy market is down 40% from 2011 as demand has weakened and aging coal plants have been retired.

But the future for renewables is looking bright. The past year saw a record 37.3 gigawatts of wind and solar power installed. Of that, solar energy had its best year ever, with 24.2 gigawatts, and the wind was 13, according to the report, which is underwritten by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

One gigawatt is enough to power 750,000 homes.

Overall, power from wind turbines reached 138 gigawatts in 2021, which makes it the largest share of U.S. renewable power for the third year in a row.

That’s likely to increase significantly in the coming years as offshore wind energy had a breakthrough year, with huge contracts and leases being signed for installations off the New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Maryland coasts.

Hydroelectric power, long the most prolific producer of carbon-free energy, fell in 2021 to 29% of all renewable output, from 35% the year before. That was a result of a historic drought in California and the Pacific Northwest. What scientists are calling a “megadrought” is the worst in 1,200 years and could continue for years to come.

wind energy

Investment rising

Investment in clean energy hit a record-breaking $105 billion in the U.S. last year, according to the report. That investment represents an 11% year-over-year increase and has grown 70% over the past five years. Globally, countries and companies invested $755 billion in the transition to carbon-neutral energy. 

“China remains by far and away the largest source for new investment. But the U.S. is second-biggest,” Zindler said.

Helping drive the increased investment is the increasingly competitive costs to produce wind and solar power, according to Lazard, a financial advisory firm that publishes annual estimates of the total cost of producing electricity.

In the U.S., onshore wind turbines provide some of the cheapest electricity, at $26 to $50 per megawatt-hour, according to Lazard. Solar costs have more variability but typically are $30 to $41 per megawatt-hour.

By comparison, costs at existing natural gas power plants are as low as $24 per megawatt-hour, but the cost at a new plant would be $45 and $74. 

While more investments are needed to continue to increase carbon-neutral energy sources and help the world reach its goal of keeping the rise of average global temperatures to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, the cost of not meeting that goal is even greater, said Jacobson, president of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

“We are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, and it is extremely costly,” Jacobson said.


Article by: Elizabeth Weise

Via: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/science/2022/03/03/wind-and-solar-power-producing-record-amount-u-s-electricity/9353259002/