Wind power accounted for the greatest increase in U.S. generation capacity last year, according to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Wind comprised 41 percent of total capacity additions in 2015 and is expected to continue to account for a large share of growth in 2016.
Wind installations increased in both 2014 and 2015, rebounding from the 1,000 MW that were added across the country in 2013. Following a record year in 2012, wind additions in 2013 dipped sharply. The EIA credits these large annual fluctuations to uncertainty surrounding extensions and modifications to the federal production tax credit.
Texas added the most wind capacity in 2015, accounting for 42 percent of total wind additions, followed by Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, and North Dakota. Record additions in wind capacity tend to cluster in the central part of the country, where wind resources are the strongest.
Natural gas-fired plants accounted for 30 percent of the country’s total capacity additions in 2015, though growth was lower in 2015 than in recent years. Most increases came in the form of combined-cycle power plants. Together, New Jersey and Texas made up half of all natural gas additions.
Solar power represented 26 percent of the country’s capacity growth in 2015. Of that growth, California accounted for 42 percent of solar capacity increases. The state added more than 1,000 MW of utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) solar power, with another 1,000 MW added in distributed PV capacity. North Carolina added 720 MW of utility-scale PV capacity, while Nevada added 110 MW of solar thermal capacity and 236 MW of PV capacity.
A record amount of distributed solar photovoltaic capacity was also added on rooftops throughout the country in 2015, particularly in the residential sector. Distributed PV solar capacity more than doubled in Nevada, jumping from 49 MW to 129 MW. The EIA notes that further growth in Nevada’s distributed PV capacity is uncertain due to the Nevada Public Utility Commission’s recent approval of changes to net-metering tariffs.