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Solar news: March 6th, 2020

In this week’s Solar News Roundup, we’re covering two topics in the broader energy industry with ties to solar: electricity generation trends in 2019 and new projections in New England for electric vehicle and electric heating adoption.

Wind and solar grow a combined 10.5% in 2019, fossil fuels slide

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), wind and solar generation grew a combined 10.5% throughout 2019, while fossil fuel generation fell 2.7%. Solar alone grew 14.9% during the year, driven mainly by photovoltaic solar expansion. 2019 brought solar energy up to about 2.6% of total electrical generation in the U.S., up from 2.2% in 2018. Additionally, wind, for the first time, generated more electricity than hydropower. It combined with solar power to produce 9.8% of all electricity generation in the country through 2019. 

While carbon emissions from electricity generation fell from 2018 to 2019, this year-over-year decline in emissions was mostly driven by the continuing transition from coal to natural gas. However, as solar and wind continue to expand (growth is projected to continue accelerating), their impact on U.S. carbon emissions will likely become more and more material and noticeable.

ISO New England forecasts large growth in electric heating and vehicles over the next decade

New England’s Independent Service Operator (ISO) recently presented a draft of their 10-year forecasts for heating and transportation electrification, and their results indicate significant growth coming to both markets in the region. On the heating side, ISO-NE forecasts roughly 750,000 air source heat pumps will be installed in the region by the end of 2029, while on the electric vehicle (EV) side, they forecast 515,000 electric cars on the road in the same timeframe.

Just how much electricity do these forecasts account for? Through 2029, ISO-NE predicts that the increased deployment of air source heat pumps will increase electrical load during winter months by nearly 600 megawatts (MW). On the EV side, they forecast an increase in electricity load of up to 400 MW per month by the end of 2029.


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