Key takeaways


olar energy in the U.S. is stepping up its game and gearing up to outshine hydropower in 2024. The latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reveals that solar is about to overtake hydro in electricity generation, reshaping America's renewable energy scene.

Since 2019, wind power has been the frontrunner in the renewable energy scene, accounting for over 10% of the U.S.'s total electricity and nearly half of its renewable output in 2022. Hydropower, once a dominant force, now trails in second place, contributing around 6% to the country's electricity. However, solar energy, currently in third place with about 3.4% of the nation's electricity supply, is rapidly closing the gap.

The United States saw an impressive surge in installed solar capacity, on average by 44% every year from 2009 to 2022. In contrast, hydroelectric capacity has only witnessed a slight uptick, growing less than 1% annually. The turning point was in September 2022, when solar-generated electricity exceeded hydroelectric generation for the first time.

Generous incentives like investment tax credits have been key to accelerating solar growth. By August 2023, the U.S. had ramped up its solar capacity to over 125 gigawatts (GW), with 80 GW coming from major utility projects and roughly 45 GW from smaller installations. On the other hand, hydroelectric capacity has plateaued around 80 GW for decades.

The sluggish pace of hydropower's growth can't solely be attributed to the rapid expansion of solar. Hydroelectric generation relies greatly on seasonal and long-term weather patterns, which have been challenging through August this year. Meanwhile, solar and wind power, while also weather-dependent, have seen a surge in generation thanks to their quick capacity growth.

Still, hydropower remains an essential part of the U.S. energy mix, especially in regions like the Pacific Northwest, where it significantly impacts the hourly electricity generation pattern. But as the STEO predicts, solar power is about to step into the spotlight, brightening the future of America's green energy sector.

US solar and Leaders strike on landmark climate deal, committing to ambitious carbon reduction targets and renewable energy initiatives to combat global warming.


Key takeaways

Nov 30, 2023
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