Renewable energy accounted for 21% of US electrical generation in 2021


In its latest analysis of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Energy Infrastructure Update and the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Short-Term Energy Outlook, the SUN DAY Campaign, a non-profit research and educational organization, has found that renewable energy sources, including solar, onshore and offshore wind, biomass, geothermal, and hydropower, accounted for just over 21% of total U.S. electrical generation in 2021.

Solar also maintained its place as the country’s fastest-growing electrical resource in 2021, with just over 25% growth in new capacity, when compared to 2020. Combined, solar and wind grew by nearly 16% and accounted for more than one-eighth of total U.S. electrical generation, with wind accounting for just over 9% and solar for just under 4%.

Moreover, SUN DAY’s analysis shows that wind and solar combined now provide more than three-fifths of all generation by renewable sources, sitting at 62% combined.  In general, 2021 was a strong year for renewable resources across the board, with the exception of hydropower. According to the analysis, hydropower output fell by nearly 9%, which the analysis attributes to severe drought conditions during the year.

In such a banner year for renewable resources, it’s shouldn’t come as a surprise that renewable sources expanded their lead over nuclear power in 2021, providing one-eighth more electricity than the nation’s atomic power plants, which accounted for roughly 18% of all generation. Natural gas remained as the top source of U.S. electrical generation with a nearly 38% share, but that share is down from 40% a year ago. Coal rebounded into second place with a 21% share, growing 16% year-over-year from 2020.

The analysis, however, predicts this coal resurgence to be short-lived, citing EIA expectations that nearly 22GW of new utility-scale solar capacity will come online in 2022 along, bolstered by 4.4GW of small-scale solar capacity and 7.6-GW of new wind capacity. Hydropower is expected to rebound in 2022, as it increased its output by nearly 20% in December 2021 compared to December 2020. All told, 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.

This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: