U.S. Solar Surpasses Other Energy Sources in Growth, Highlighting Need for Accelerated Renewable Expansion

A comprehensive review by the SUN DAY Campaign of reports from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reveals that energy has exhibited faster growth in electrical generation than all other sources. The analysis, encompassing the first 10 months of 2023, indicates that solar has outpaced other forms of energy in new generating capacity added during this period. Despite this promising trend, the reports emphasize the imperative for even more rapid growth across all sources to meet climate change goals.

FERC's “Energy Update” outlines that solar contributed 10,937 MW of new domestic generating capacity in 2023, constituting 42.1% of the total additions. Notably, this surpasses the new capacities added by natural gas and nuclear power during the same period. The data indicates a continuous upward trajectory, with October alone witnessing 976 MW of new solar capacity coming online.

See also: U.S. Adds 6.5 GW of Solar Capacity in Q3 2023, Sets Record for Annual Growth

The EIA's “ Power Monthly” report underscores the growing share of renewables in US electrical generation, reaching 22.8% for the first 10 months of 2023. Solar, inclusive of small-scale distributed systems, saw a remarkable 14.7% growth during this period, outpacing other energy sources. The report emphasizes that solar's share of total electrical generation has risen to 5.9%, up from 5.1% a year earlier.

The “Short-Term Energy Outlook” by EIA reiterates solar as the fastest-growing source of US electric power generation. Projections indicate that 23 GW of new solar generation will come online in 2023, marking a 33% increase from 2022. Furthermore, solar and wind generation combined are anticipated to surpass coal-generated in 2024.

However, a contrasting perspective is provided by EIA's “Monthly Energy Review,” which suggests that while renewables accounted for 8.3% of US energy production during the first nine months of 2023, fossil fuel production increased by 4.8%, constituting 83.8% of domestic energy production. The report emphasizes the need for continued growth in solar, wind, and other renewable sources to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

See also: Solar Energy to Surpass Hydropower in U.S. Electricity Generation by 2024, EIA Predicts

As the SUN DAY Campaign's executive director, Ken Bossong, noted, “Solar is leading the nation's transition away from nuclear power and fossil fuels.” However, the relatively modest share of renewable energy in total production and consumption underscores the necessity for accelerated growth to achieve substantial emissions reductions.

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