100 New U.S. Biomass Units in 2012

By Anna Simet | January 17, 2013

Every now and then I get energy infrastructure updates sent to me from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Office of Energy Projects, and the one I received this week was encouraging.

Renewable energy sources—biomass, geothermal, solar, water and wind—accounted for 49.10 percent of all new domestic electrical generating capacity installed in 2012, totaling 12,956 MW.  That’s nearly an even split with fossil-fuel derived energy.

As it usually does, wind dominated development in 2012 with 164 new units totaling 10,689 MW, followed by solar and then biomass, which added 100 new units totaling 543 MW.

The report compares renewable energy development with fossil fuels as well. New natural gas generation in service totaled 8,746 MW, followed by coal at 4,510 MW, nuclear at 125 MW  and oil at 49 MW - 0.19%).

Overall, new capacity from renewable energy sources in 2012 increased by 51.16 percent compared to 2011, according to the report. In 2011, renewables accounted for just 39.33 percent of all new in-service generation capacity.

Renewable sources now account for 15.40 percent of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity. While biomass is at only 1.3 percent, I would dare to call 2012 a good year for the industry, and I’m excited to see what 2013 results will look like for biomass and renewable energy in general. I think the extension and changes to the renewable energy production tax credit will have a significant impact, and if it’s not very noticeable in 2013, it most definitely will be in 2014 when it’s safe to say projects benefitting from the tax credits will come on line.