Wind, solar expected to grow in 2018

(Ken James/Bloomberg)

Wind and solar power are expected to make significant gains in 2018, according to the short-term energy outlook released Monday by the U.S. Department of Energy.

By the end of last year, the nation’s wind capacity was 81,000 megawatts — one megawatt is enough to power around 200 homes on a hot Texas day. Additions to the country’s wind power grid could drive that up to 102,000 megawatts by the end of 2018.

Already, wind turbines contributed more capacity to the electricity grid than any other renewable energy source, at eight percent.

Utility-scale solar power capacity, which has grown exponentially in the past two years, is expected to increase by 48 percent by the end of 2018. That means wind power capacity will grow from 21,500 megawatts to around 32,000 megawatts. (Seven years ago, there were less than a thousand megawatts of utility-scale solar capacity in the U.S.)