The U.S. added 699 megawatts of new capacity to produce electricity in October and 99 percent, or 694 MW, came from renewable sources, according to a study from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The other five megawatts came from oil.
Solar made up the bulk of the new capacity, with 504 megawatts, followed by biomass at 124, and wind at 66. So far in 2013, renewables have accounted for one third of new capacity in the U.S. Solar more than doubled its capacity from 2012, contributing 20.5 percent of new capacity, beating coal, which only contributed 12.5 percent.
Solar is surging in large part due to the rapidly-falling costs of photovoltaic cells each year and dramatic increases in efficiency. But the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot grant program is one of many programs helping push costs down, in this case by funding solar startups and efficiency research.
Although renewables have made gains, U.S. electricity capacity is still dominated by fossil fuels, nearly half coming from natural gas, and over a quarter from coal. Even nuclear beats out renewables if hydroelectric isn’t counted, though notably no new nuclear has been added since 1996.