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Given the US power capacity data for late 2020, I thought it was a good time to see how US power capacity has changed over the past decade.
Using data from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, I created two new graphs that highlight the shifts that have occurred over those 10 years to have. In addition to the charts, I am breaking down how the market share of these different energy sources has changed. You can view interactive diagrams at the end of the article. Be aware, however, that they often don’t display well on small devices (i.e. phones) and therefore may be viewed better on a laptop / desktop computer.
Before you dive into the comparisons, here are some things to highlight : Total electricity capacity in the US has barely changed in these 10 years. The country’s total output was 1,132.68 gigawatts (GW) at the end of December 2010, while the country’s total output was only slightly higher at 1,217.23 GW at the end of December 2020.
First of all, you can see that the solar capacity of almost nothing (1.12 GW) became a significant player (52.58 GW). Expressed as a percentage, it rose from 0.10% to 4.32% during this time.
Wind power rose from 3.4% to 9.8% – an increase of 81.17 GW over the course of the decade.
During this period there was a big loser and a minor loser. Coal power capacity collapsed, increasing from 30.37% market share to 19.65%. A total of 104.73 GW of coal power went offline. Similarly (but on a smaller scale) the oil increased from 5.4% to 3.2%. Natural gas, on the flip side, rose from 40.8% to 44.3%, increasing 77.44 GW from December 2010 to December 2020.
By combining all of the renewable energy options, renewables stand out much bolder. They accounted for 13.8% of US electricity capacity at the end of 2010 and 22.2% of nationwide electricity capacity at the end of 2020. In absolute terms, renewables rose from 156.1 GW in December 2010 to 294.12 GW in December 2020.
Yes, the country still has a long way to go to fully bring the renewable energy revolution to life and to bring about the idea that natural gas should be a growing source of energy in the market, but the growth in renewable energy over the past 10 years is certainly a positive story. Also keep in mind that if small solar power plants were added, the results for solar and renewables would look a little better overall, as this only affects large power plants.
Here are interactive versions of the diagrams above (hover over the bars to show the total installed capacity at the end of 2010 versus the end of 2020):
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The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) expects slightly more than 50% of the new US electricity capacity in the next 3 years. .
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