Wind Tops U.S. Capacity Additions for 2012

January 14, 2013

Preliminary data for 2012 from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) indicate that, for the first time, more wind generating capacity was brought online than any other resource type to meet the nation’s electricity needs. Net wind capacity additions totaled 10,043 megawatts (MW) in 2012, while net natural gas capacity additions totaled 7,206 MW. The EIA data also indicate that:

  • 2012 solar photovoltaic (PV) installations increased by 84% over 2011 installations
  • Only five new coal units were added in 2012, versus 50 coal unit retirements
  • 40% of the wind capacity added in 2012 was added in December. This was likely driven in part by uncertainty over the federal production tax credit, which was later extended 

The following figure shows cumulative net capacity additions by month and resource type for 2012, based on the preliminary EIA data. The “other” category contains (relatively) small electricity-producing resources such as tires and waste heat, as well as net capacity changes for hydroelectric and biomass energy resources.

Source:  Electric Power Monthly. 24 January 2013. Table ES3, Table ES4