So far, it has been a big year for the U.S. wind industry, which experienced its fastest first-quarter growth since 2009. In total, about 2,000 megawatts of new capacity was installed, enough to power about 500,000 homes. With this addition, wind now produces 5 1/2% of the country’s electricity.
Solar panels on the roofs of houses have become a familiar sight in recent years, but utility-scale solar – installations of 10 megawatts and greater – are really booming these days. Throughout the United States, more than 10.5 gigawatts of utility-scale solar were added to the electric grid in 2016 – enough to power more than 2 million homes – and at least 8 gigawatts more are scheduled to come online this year.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that the state’s support for solar power initiatives has resulted in an 800% increase in industry growth since 2011. New York’s various renewable energy programs have resulted in $1.5 billion in investments. The NY-Sun Initiative has produce a 10-fold increase in solar projects in several regions of the state. The Mohawk Valley led the way with an almost 16-fold increase in solar capacity.
Installations of solar power continue to increase rapidly around the world and in no place more than China. By the end of 2016, total solar generating capacity in China reached 77.4 gigawatts, making it the largest producer of solar energy in the world. Globally, there is a total of 228 gigawatts of solar power installed, although that number keeps changing rapidly.
For many decades, hydroelectric dams were the top source of renewable energy in the United States. But for the first time ever, by the end of last year, installed wind power capacity in the U.S. outpaced hydroelectric capacity.
The Cuomo Administration recently released the New York State Offshore Wind Blueprint, a plan to advance the development of offshore wind along New York’s coastline.