A late March day saw wind power generate more electricity in the United States than either coal or nuclear, for the first time on record.
Power generation from wind was second only to natural gas on March 29 in the Lower 48 U.S. states, producing 2,017 gigawatt hours, just ahead of nuclear’s 1,989 GWh and well ahead of coal’s 1,822 GWh, reports S&P Global Commodity Insights.
Gas-fired generation remained securely in the top spot, producing 3,287 GWh that day.
S&P Global power market analyst Tyler Jubert said wind’s success on the 29th did reflect a shift in the country’s energy mix, with wind capacity added while coal and nuclear plants are retired.
“Our latest short-term forecast has tracked an incremental 21.5 gigawatts in total U.S. wind capacity that has come online between March 2021 and March 2022,” Jubert said, with some 4.8 GW of coal were retired during that same period.
Looking ahead, he added, “there is an incremental 10 GW of wind capacity across the U.S. that could come online between now and the end of the year, which supports our outlook that wind generation will continue to increase in market share.”
Another 12.5 GW of coal is slated to close between April and December. But Jubert cautioned that some of these retirements may be delayed into 2023 due to recent spikes in fuel prices and concerns about energy security. He also pointed out that nuclear generation typically declines around the end of March as reactor systems shut down for routine maintenance.
Noting that wind output had already exceeded coal and nuclear separately on other days this year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said it expects wind will beat out both together more and more often, on a day-to-day basis.
But forecasters don’t expect wind to surpass either coal or nuclear for a whole month any earlier than 2024, the EIA said.