Renewable electricity surpassed coal in the United States in 2022

U.S. Energy Information Administration

March 29, 2023

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has announced that electricity generated from renewable sources -- wind, solar, hydro, biomass, and geothermal -- surpassed coal for the first time in the United States in 2022. Renewables have also surpassed nuclear generation of energy after doing so for the first time in 2021.

In addition, according to the EIA report, last year the U.S. electric power sector produced 4,090 million megawatt hours (MWh) of electric power.

“Renewable energy is now the most affordable source of new electricity in much of the country,” said Gregory Westone, president and chief executive officer of the American Council on Renewable Energy.

Growth in wind and solar significantly drove the increase and contributed 14 percent of the electricity produced domestically in 2022. Hydropower contributed 6 percent; biomass and geothermal sources generated less than 1 percent.

California led in renewable energy production with 26 percent solar electricity on the national utility-scale, followed by Texas with 16 percent and North Carolina with 8 percent.

Texas also generated the most wind energy, accounting for 26 percent of the U.S. total, followed by Iowa with 10 percent and Oklahoma with 9 percent.

“This booming growth is driven largely by economics,” said Westone. “Over the past decade, the levelized cost of wind energy declined by 70 percent while the levelized cost of solar power declined by 90 percent.”

The Energy Information Administration predicts continued growth in wind-generated energy in 2023 (from 11 to 12 percent) and solar growth (from 4 to 5 percent) and that these types of energy generation will continue to accelerate. Natural gas is expected to stay steady at 39 percent from 2022 to 2023, and coal is projected to decline from 20 percent last year to 17 percent this year.

However, the report by the EIA found the country remains heavily reliant on the burning of climate changing fossil fuels. Coal-fired generation was 20 percent of the electric sector in 2022, a decline from 23 percent in 2021. Natural gas was the largest source of U.S. electricity in 2022, generating 39 percent last year compared to 37 percent in 2021.

You can read more on the EIA report here

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.


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