Renewables Provide almost 23 Percent of U.S. Energy in First Three Quarters of 2022

According to a review by the SUN DAY Campaign of data released the day before Thanksgiving by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) provided almost 23 percent of the nation’s electrical generation during the first three quarters of 2022.  

The latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” report (with data through Sept. 30, 2022) reveals that in the first nine months of 2022, renewable energy sources (including small-scale solar systems) [1] increased their electrical output by 15.44 percent compared to the same period a year earlier. Year-to-date, renewables have provided 22.66 percent of total U.S. electrical generation compared to 20.33 percent a year earlier. 

For the nine-month period, electrical generation by wind increased by 18.64 percent and provided almost a tenth (9.75 percent) of total electrical generation. Meanwhile, solar sources grew by 25.68 percent and provided 5.01 percent of the nation’s electrical output. In addition, generation by hydropower increased 7.98 percent and accounted for 6.29 percent of the total. Geothermal also grew by 6.95 percent while electrical generation attributed to the combination of wood and other biomass dropped by 1.12 percent. 

Taken together, during the first three-quarters of 2022, renewable energy sources comfortably out-produced both coal and nuclear power by 15.52 and 28.25 percent, respectively. In fact, over the past half-decade, the mix of renewables has moved from fourth into second place among electrical generating sources while relegating coal and nuclear to third and fourth place. 

However, EIA’s data also suggest that renewable energy’s strong growth this year may slow down during the last third of 2022.  

In September alone, electrical generation by solar grew by 21.02 percent and geothermal increased by 5.1 percent compared to September 2021. On the other hand, generation by wind dropped by 6.81 percent as did that by hydropower (down 1.14 percent) and biomass/wood (down 4.57 percent). Taken together, electrical output by renewables was just 1.45 percent higher than a year ago and because electrical generation by all sources increased, renewables’ share in September was nearly unchanged from a year earlier (19.18 percent vs. 19.14 percent).   

“For some time now, EIA has been forecasting renewables to provide 22 percent of U.S. electrical generation in 2022—up from 20 percent a year earlier [2],” notes SUN DAY Campaign Executive Director Ken Bossong. “While they presently are ahead of that level, a slowdown in generation by wind and hydropower during the last quarter of this year could result in renewables falling short of that mark while still exceeding their 2021 record output.”    

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Notes:   

[1] Unless otherwise indicated, the electricity figures cited above include EIA’s “estimated small-scale solar photovoltaic” (rooftop solar systems) which accounts for 28.8 percent of total solar output and over six percent (6.4 percent) of total net electrical generation by renewable energy sources.  

[2] See, for example, U.S. Energy Information Administration, “EIA expects renewables to account for 22 percent of U.S. electricity generation in 2022” (August 16, 2022) https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=53459   

 

Source:  

EIA’s latest “Electric Power Monthly” report was released on November 23, 2022. For the data cited in this news release, see Table ES1.A “Total Electric Power Industry Summary Statistics 2022 and 2021” and Table ES1.B. “Total Electric Power Industry Summary Statistics, Year-to-Date 2022 and 2021” at:  

https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=table_es1a

https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=table_es1b

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