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US solar installations ahead of natural gas in first nine months


The US installed 9924MW of solar in the first nine months of 2023, accounting for over 42% of new electricity generating capacity in the period, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).


FERC's data, which has been reviewed by the SUN DAY Campaign, reveals the solar capacity additions during the first nine months of this year were almost a third (32.8%) larger than for the same period last year.


In FERC’s latest monthly "Energy Infrastructure Update" report (with data through 30 September 2023), the new solar capacity additions edged past the 8962MW of new natural gas (38.2%) and were nine times greater than that provided by the new 1100MW Vogtle-3 nuclear reactor (4.7%) in Georgia as well as by oil (54MW) and waste heat (31MW).


Other renewable energy sources have also experienced growth this year, with wind providing an additional 3062MW (13.1%).


Including hydropower (224MW), geothermal (44MW), and biomass (30MW), the mix of renewable energy sources has accounted for the majority (56.7%) of new capacity added since January.


In September alone, 24 new solar assets, totalling 881MW, came online, including the 250MW Oberon Renewable Energy Project in Riverside County, California and the 206MW Shakes Solar Project in Dimmit County, Texas.


These and other solar additions brought utility-scale solar’s share of total available installed generating capacity in the US up to 7.3%, from 6.1% a year earlier.


While solar’s share of total installed US generating capacity still trails wind (11.6%) it is closing in on that of hydropower (7.9%).


Taken together, the installed capacity of all renewable sources, including biomass (1.2%) and geothermal (0.3%), was 28.3% of the nation’s total at the end of the first nine months of 2023 up from 27% a year earlier.

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