According to the latest Short-Term Energy Outlook by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), wind and solar power to spearhead US power growth over the next two years, indicating a substantial shift towards these renewable energy sources in the country’s power generation landscape.
Wind and solar to spearhead US power growth is evident in the solar power sector’s forecasted growth.Solar power is set to experience a substantial surge, with the EIA predicting a 75% increase in solar power generation, from 163 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 2023 to an estimated 286 billion kWh by 2025.This significant growth in solar energy is attributed to a wave of new solar projects expected to become operational in 2024.
Similarly,wind power generation is anticipated to grow by 11%, from 430 billion kWh in 2023 to about 476 billion kWh in 2025.This steady increase underscores the growing significance of wind energy in the US power sector.
In a broader context, renewable energy sources – including wind, solar, hydro, biomass, and geothermal – played a substantial role in the US electricity generation in 2023, accounting for 22% of the total production, or 874 billion kWh. Notably, renewable power generation surpassed nuclear power for the first time in 2021 and coal in 2022.
The EIA report highlights that wind and solar developers tend to bring their projects online towards the end of the calendar year, impacting generation growth trends for the subsequent year. Large capacity additions and the advantageous tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act partly fuel the rapid growth of solar energy. Consequently, solar capacity operated by the electric power sector is projected to increase by 38%, from 95 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2023 to 131 GW by 2024.
While solar energy is expanding rapidly, wind capacity is expected to see a more modest increase, reaching 156 GW by the end of 2024, up from 149 GW in December 2023. Nuclear power generation is also set to remain relatively stable, slightly increasing from 776 billion kWh in 2023 to 797 billion kWh in 2025.
Despite these advancements in renewable energy, natural gas will continue to be the largest source of electricity generation in the US. The EIA predicts that natural gas will maintain its annual generation at around 1,700 billion kWh in 2024 and 2025, similar to the levels in 2023. However, coal power generation is expected to decline by 18%, dropping from 665 billion kWh in 2023 to 548 billion kWh in 2025.
This forecast by the EIA reflects a significant shift in the US energy landscape, emphasizing the increasing role of renewable sources in meeting the nation’s power needs. Solar and wind energy growth, supported by favourable policies and technological advancements, marks a crucial step towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly power generation infrastructure.