Full Steam Ahead for Clean Energy as NJ, Other States Adopt New Policies

Tom Johnson | January 11, 2019 | Energy & Environment
New Jersey under Gov. Phil Murphy has aggressive goals for renewable sources of energy, but initiatives aren’t expected to deliver immediately

Credit: Master Wen/Unsplash
Wind power
The boom in natural gas and renewable energy shows little sign of abating, according to new projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

New electric generating capacity from renewable energy sources of wind and solar account for well more than half of new planned capacity in 2019, according to the EIA’s latest inventory of electric generators.

The utility-scale capacity additions consist primarily of wind (46 percent), natural gas (34 percent) and solar photovoltaics (18 percent), with the remaining 2 percent consisting primarily of other renewables and battery storage capacity, according to the agency.

The projections follow a report earlier this month that greenhouse-gas emissions in the United States rose by 3.4 percent last year, the biggest increase in eight years. The power industry is the largest source of carbon pollution behind only the transportation sector.

Many states, including New Jersey, have adopted new policies to switch to cleaner sources of energy. Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law last spring that aims for 100 percent clean energy in New Jersey by 2050.

New wind capacity next year in three other states

According to the EIA, a total of 10.9 gigawatts of wind capacity is scheduled to come online in 2019. Three states — Texas, Iowa, and Illinois — will be home to more than half of the planned wind capacity additions.

None of it is expected to occur in New Jersey, which has aggressive future goals of developing a robust offshore-wind industry. Three developers have submitted applications to build up to 1,100 megawatts of wind capacity off the Jersey coast, but those projects, if approved are not expected to be operational until 2023 at the earliest.

Cheap natural gas has led to a rapid growth in new gas-fired power plants. Of the planned natural-gas capacity additions, 60 percent will occur in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Louisiana, according to the EIA.

Four new natural-gas plants have been proposed in New Jersey, but none are expected to be operation in 2019. They include facilities in Cape May, North Bergen, Woodbridge and Holland Township.

Solar capacity continues to grow, according to the EIA. Nearly half of the 4.3 GW of utility-scale solar photovoltaic capacity additions are located in just three states: Texas, California, and North Carolina.

New Jersey is revamping its solar program, which has installed more than 1,000 solar systems in the state, the fifth largest in the nation. The state recently has launched a new program to bring community solar projects to urban communities that have not yet benefitted from the technology.