Renewables Achieve Over 30% of U.S. Electrical Generation for the First Time


A review by the SUN DAY Campaign of data newly released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirms that solar has continued its decade-long streak as the nation’s fastest-growing source of electricity.

In its latest monthly “Electric Power Monthly” report (with data through April 30, 2024), EIA says the combination of utility-scale and small-scale (e.g., rooftop) solar increased by 25.4% in the first four months of 2024 compared to the first third of 2023. Small-scale solar alone grew by 19.3% while utility-scale solar thermal and photovoltaic expanded by 28.4% — substantially faster than any other energy source.

As a consequence, solar was 6.0% of total U.S. electrical generation during the first third and growing rapidly. In April alone, its share rose to an all-time high of 8.4%.

Small-scale solar accounted for nearly a third (30.8%) of all solar generation and provided almost two percent (1.9%) of U.S. electricity supply in the first four months of this year. It reached 2.5% in April.

Electrical generation by the mix of all renewables (i.e., solar, wind and hydropower plus biomass and geothermal) grew by 6.3% in the first third of 2024 compared to the same period a year earlier and provided 26.2% of total generation.

In April alone, electrical generation by renewables grew by 13.5% compared to April 2023 and reached 31.0% of the U.S. total — the first time that renewable energy sources ever provided more than 30% of the nation’s electrical generation in any month. A year earlier, it had been 28.4%.

The combination of just wind and solar accounted for almost a quarter (23.45%) of the nation’s electrical generation in April alone – another record.

During the first four months of 2024, solar generation (6.0% of the total) pulled nearly even with hydropower (6.1%) and did surpass it in April by almost 40% making solar the second largest renewable energy source — behind only wind (whose own output in April was more than double that of hydro). [2]

Similarly, electrical generation by wind alone approached the output of the nation’s coal plants during the first third of 2024 and surpassed coal’s output by more than a quarter (28.1%) in the month of April. Wind plus solar produced more than two times as much electricity as did coal in April.

Meanwhile, the combination of wind and solar nearly matched the electrical output of the nation’s nuclear reactors during the first third of 2024 and did, in fact, outproduce nuclear power by more than 30% in April alone. The mix of all renewables provided almost 40% more electricity than did nuclear power during the first four months of 2024 and surpassed nuclear power by 72.1% in April alone.

Taken together, renewables strengthened their position as the second largest source of electrical generation, behind only natural gas whose lead over renewables continues to narrow. Natural gas’ share averaged 40.1% during the first third of 2023 but fell to 38.5% in April.

“EIA’s latest data do not yet include the sunniest days and weeks of the year and it can therefore be assumed that more records will be broken by renewables in the months ahead,” noted the SUN DAY Campaign’s executive director Ken Bossong. “And it appears that renewables are once again out-performing earlier EIA projections.”

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