Solar, Wind and Other Renewables Rapidly Expand within Nation’s Energy Production

According to an analysis by the SUN DAY Campaign, three new reports recently released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) all point to the same conclusion: Renewable energy sources, led by solar and wind, continue to rapidly expand their share of the nation’s energy production and electricity generation. 

“Monthly Energy Review” report:[1]

(with data through April 30, 2022) 

During the first third of 2022, renewable energy sources (biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) accounted for 13.82 percent of total U.S. energy production for electricity, transportation, heating, feedstocks, and other needs compared to 12.85 percent a year earlier. Renewable energy output for the first four months of 2022 was 14.03 percent higher than for the same period in 2021.  

Renewables also accounted for 13.14 percent of domestic energy consumption up from 12.21 percent a year earlier. The use of solar energy rose by 27.57 percent while that of wind increased by 24.25 percent. Consumption of biofuels expanded by 9.74 percent. 

“Electric Power Monthly” report: [2]

(with data through May 31, 2022) 

For the first five months of 2022, solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources provided 25.7 percent of U.S. electricity – more than either coal or nuclear power and up from 22.9 percent a year earlier. Solar and wind increased by 27.2 percent and 24.4 percent respectively while hydropower expanded by 9.0% and geothermal grew by 1.4 percent. Biomass and wood dropped by 4.16 percent. 

In May alone, electrical generation by renewable sources increased by 16.61 percent compared to May 2021 and accounted for 26.58 percent of total generation compared to 24.61 percent a year earlier. All renewables combined provided nearly 50 percent more electricity than either coal or nuclear power in May. The mix of just solar and wind produced more electricity than coal and nearly tied nuclear power.  

“Electricity Monthly Update” report: [3] 

(with analyses of solar and battery storage in 2021 vs. 2020) 

EIA reports that U.S shipments of solar photovoltaic modules increased by 21 percent to a record 26.3 million peak kilowatts in 2021 up from 21.8 million peak kW in 2020. The U.S. added 13.2-GW of utility-scale capacity, a record high and 25 percent more than 2020 capacity additions (10.6-GW). Small-scale solar capacity installations increased by 5.4-GW in 2021, up 23% from 2020 installations (4.4-GW).  

In addition, battery storage capacity more than tripled in 2021, from 1,438 megawatts (MW) in 2020 to 4,631-MW in 2021. Over 93 percent of the battery capacity that went online in 2021 was co-located with solar and is reflective of the continued industry-wide growth of paired renewable and storage capacity. 

“Each new EIA study seems to draw the same conclusion – renewables are on a roll,” notes the SUN DAY Campaign’s Executive Director Ken Bossong. “Moreover, the rate at which they are expanding their share of the nation’s energy production and electrical generation appears to be accelerating.”   

Sources 

[1] https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec1_3.pdf (see tables 1.1, 1.3, 10.1)  

[2] https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly (see tables ES1.A and ES1.B)  

[3] https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/update (see:” Solar photovoltaic module shipments reach record high in 2021″ and “Battery storage capacity more than tripled in 2021 as reported applications expanded beyond ancillary services”) 

Note: All three reports were released by EIA on July 26, 2022. 

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