Wind and solar will deliver 70% of new U.S. renewable energy capacity this year, compared to only 16% expected to come from natural gas, while battery storage will vault to 11% of the total, according to new data released last week by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Solar will be the biggest single source of new generation, at 39%, followed by wind at 31%, Greentech Media reports. The much-anticipated new Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia will supply the remaining 3% if it goes into service this year.
The EIA’s calculation “only counts utility-scale projects, so solar and batteries at homes and businesses will yield an even bigger clean energy tally,” Greentech notes. But even so, “the numbers indicate that the power industry has not simply accepted wind and solar power, but embraced them to such an extent that they dominate new construction. Of the new plants built this year, 84% will deliver electricity without burning fossil fuels.”
Greentech reporter Julian Spector calls that “a remarkable shift from the market landscape just a few years ago,” reflecting “continued cost declines as the industry scales up and renewable supply chains mature.” The numbers land as the Biden-Harris administration takes office with a US$2-trillion climate and green recovery plan in its (proverbial) back pocket, with utility buy-in making the shift off carbon look “less threatening to industry,” he says.
Earlier in the month, S&P Global Market Intelligence projected the U.S. will add 172.5 gigawatts (that’s 172.5 billion watts) of new renewable energy capacity through 2024, including 96.8 gigawatts of solar and 75.7 GW of wind.
“While some of the projects may not cross the finish line, especially those in early development phases, wind and solar projects totalling 30.7 GW of capacity are now under construction,” S&P writes, in a post republished by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. “Meanwhile, 18.2 GW of projects are in advanced development, 109.3 GW are in early development, and developers announced 14.1 GW of new projects.”