38% solar growth pushing wind-solar dynamic duo past coal in 2024


The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that the combined electricity generation from wind and solar power will surpass coal in 2024.

The EIA predicts a 38% increase in solar electricity generation in 2024 from its 2023 level, alongside 6.7% growth in wind energy. Overall, wind and solar are expected to generate 90 billion kWh more than coal in 2024, amounting to 688 billion kWh, while coal’s generation is projected at 599 billion kWh.

This transition is driven by two primary factors:

  1. Massive growth by solar power.
  2. A substantial shift from coal to natural gas.

Wind generation is expected to rise from a forecasted 430 billion kWh in 2023 to 459 billion kWh in 2024, following a projected decrease in 2023 from the 434 billion kWh generated in 2022. Meanwhile, utility-scale solar generation is forecasted to grow from 143 billion kWh in 2022 to 165 billion kWh in 2023, and then surge to 228 billion kWh in 2024.

Small-scale solar energy is also showing growth, with a projected output of 85 billion kWh in 2024. This represents a 16% increase from 73 billion kWh in 2023, building on the previous year’s robust growth of nearly 20% from 2022’s 61 billion kWh.

Wind and solar together are expected to account for over 16% of all electricity generation next year. Specifically, wind energy alone is anticipated to provide nearly 10.3% of all electricity generated, with the remaining percentage attributed to solar power.

The expansion in solar generation is driven by a considerable increase in capacity. In 2023, utility-scale solar installations are estimated at 23 GW. Including all project sizes, suggests a total addition of 33 GW between industrial, community, commercial, and residential solar sectors. For 2024, the EIA expects 37 GW of utility-scale installations, which when combined with small scale capacity – we may see the national total reach nearly 50 GW.

As of September 2023, solar electricity generation has risen by 16% for all of 2023. Maintaining this growth rate through the end of 2023 would result in solar accounting for approximately 5.4% of the year’s total electricity generation.

In November, the EIA projected solar electricity generation would overtake hydroelectricity by 2024 due to solar capacity’s rapid growth, averaging 44% annually from 2009 to 2022. While hydroelectric capacity grew modestly at just under 1% per year, the actual output from hydroelectric sources has seen a slight decline.

Overall, the EIA projects the total electricity generation for 2024 to be 4,231 billion kWh, a 1% increase from the predicted 4,188 billion kWh in 2023, but slightly down from 2022’s 4,279 billion kWh.

Despite significant electricity price increases in 2021, 2022, and 2023, prices are expected to stabilize or decline in 2024.

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