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If you are a solar supporter you have no doubt heard criticism from some that solar specifically - and renewables generally - aren’t “real” - not real jobs, not real energy. Well this is pretty real: renewables accounted for nearly half of all the new electricity generation capacity installed in the U.S. in 2012!
The latest Energy Infrastructure Update issued by the Office of Energy Projects within the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) tells the tale: lead by wind power, renewable energy sources accounted for 49.1% of 2012’s new installed capacity, up from 39.9% in 2011! Thanks to the restoration of federal tax incentives for wind generation, it seems likely that both wind and solar will continue their substantial growth - wind increased by 56% in 2012 over 2011 and solar increased by 30% - into 2013. And these are only counting projects that make it onto FERC’s radar - which means that thousands of residential and commercial-scale solar projects that were installed last year are NOT included in this chart!
To be sure, installed capacity alone is not a very good measure of the value of a generation resource onto the grid, and effective storage is going to be key to helping renewables finally silence their critics.
But these numbers are real, the jobs are real, the energy is real, and renewables are here to stay!