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Natural gas-fired power plants accounted for more than half of newly installed capacity last year, surpassing all other forms of power generation combined, according to the EIA. The 6,861 megawatts of gas capacity installed by utilities accounted for a little more than 50% of 13,500 megawatts constructed in 2013. Solar came in second place, with 2,959 megawatts installed. Coal, wind, and biomass came in third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.
The volume of installed solar was a notable achievement for the industry, which surpassed wind power for the first time to account for the most renewable energy installed in a year. Solar captured 22% of new capacity, a major increase from the 6% of new capacity it accounted for in 2012. Moreover, the EIA data only includes utility-based solar, and does not account for rooftop solar, which by some accounts added an additional 1,900 megawatts in 2013.
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Another interesting fact from the EIA data was that nearly half of the total 13,500 megawatts of power generation installed last year occurred in California. With the closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, California has installed a lot of natural gas capacity to make up for the shortfall. Natural gas is also a good complement to intermittent renewable energy, and California has been quickly installing solar power to meet its ambitious renewable portfolio standard – which requires utilities to generate 33% of their power from renewable energy by 2020. California accounted for more than half of both the new natural gas as well as the new solar added.
By Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com