Renewable energy supplied 21.02% of the United States’ total electrical generation in 2021, coming in 5% ahead of forecasts made by the nation’s energy information agency.
“2021 was a good year for solar and wind, notwithstanding headwinds such as the COVID-19 pandemic and disruptions in global supply chains,” noted SUN DAY Campaign Executive Director Ken Bossong. “Together with other renewable energy sources, they built on their growing lead over nuclear power, will likely overtake coal in 2022, and continue to cut into natural gas’s current dominance.”
The combined growth from solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, and biomass was 6.17% higher in 2021 than the previous year, according to figures released in the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest monthly report. Renewables also expanded their lead over nuclear power generation and, despite natural gas remaining as a top energy source and coal rebounding into second place, long-term trends suggest renewables will gradually displace coal and nuclear, reports PV Buzz.
The numbers exceeded EIA projections from early in 2021, but align with the agency’s mid-year reports. Solar was the nation’s fastest-growing energy source, rising 25.23% over 2020. Wind grew by 12.37%, and the two sources togetherß now account for more than three-fifths of total renewable power generation. Hydropower recorded a sub-par performance because of the severe drought gripping much of the western states, reports the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
According to the EIA report, overall net generation of all energy sources from utility-scale facilities rose by 2.7%, with public electric utilities generating more electricity than independent power producers (IPPs). Utilities produced more power from coal than from renewables overall, but IPPs generated more from renewables, as did industrial and commercial/industrial facilities. Gas was the leading source of electricity across the board.
The EIA expects 21.8 gigawatts of new utility-scale solar to come online in 2022, along with 7.6 gigawatts of wind. Hydropower will rebound by the end of the year, the agency says.
“As a consequence, EIA now expects renewables’ share of U.S. electrical generation to top 22% this year and exceed that of coal while nuclear power’s share declines further,” reports PV Buzz.