Solar comes second only to natural gas in new US power, while wind slumps to fourth place behind coal
By Gerard Wynn
Solar power was second only to natural gas in added power generation capacity last year, the US Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday.
“Natural gas-fired power plants accounted for just over 50% of new utility-scale generating capacity added in 2013. Solar provided nearly 22%, a jump up from less than 6% in 2012,” the EIA said.
Wind, meanwhile, slumped to fourth place behind coal, reflecting a hiatus as a result of uncertainty over the continuation of tax credits.
The tax credits are the main subsidy for wind power projects, and were extended only after they expired on December 31 2012, creating an uncertainty for investors in the industry which all but killed off a pipeline for new projects.
In all, the United States added some 2,193 megawatts (MW) of larger solar farms bigger than 1 MW in size, and around 1,900 MW of non-utility including roof-top installations.
Some 85% of all new solar power capacity was located in California and Arizona, the EIA said.
The continuing rapid ramp up in capacity reflects falling technology costs coupled with a continuing investment tax credit (ITC).
The ITC allows investors in solar power projects to offset 30% of the cost against tax.
Added wind power capacity fell to 1,032 MW from 12,885 MW in 2012.