Distributed Generation, Hydro, Wind - January 25, 2018
Wind to surpass hydro as largest RE source
The EIA expects wind power to surpass hydroelectricity as the provider of the largest share of renewable energy in the U.S., based on forecasts in their latest Short-Term Energy Outlook.
While hydro power has historically accounted for the largest share of RE, the EIA forecasts its rate declining from 7.4% in 2017 to 6.5% in 2018 and 6.6% in 2019, due to the limited number of new hydro plants expected to come online in the next two years combined with projections of precipitation water runoff.
Concurrently, significant levels of new wind capacity are expected to come online in 2018 and 2019, following the trend seen in recent years. The EIA’s latest "Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory" survey estimates an increase in wind capacity of 8.3 gigawatts in 2018, following by an additional 8 gigawatts in 2019. These increases would add 9% to U.S. utility-scale wind capacity in 2018 and another 8% in 2019. This forecast considers the capacity and timing of new wind turbines coming online.
Hydro and wind generation follow seasonal patterns. Hydro is typically highest in the spring when water runoff is increased by precipitation and melting snow. Wind hits a peak in the spring and fall, reflecting the capacity-weighted mix of seasonal patterns in wind across the country. Hydro often has slightly higher annual capacity factors, or utilization rates, averaging 38% in 2016 compared with 35% for wind.
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