Listen to this article Renewable Energy Overtakes Coal In The US Energy Mix
Renewable energy sources in the United States overtook coal as the top source of electricity generation in 2022 for the first time, according to newly released federal data. While this marks a significant milestone in transitioning to clean energy, experts believe that faster progress is necessary to meet global climate targets. The growth in renewable electricity was largely driven by a surge in added wind and solar capacity.
Renewables Outpace Coal in Electricity Generation
Combined wind and solar generation in the US increased from 12% of national power production in 2021 to 14% in 2022, according to the Energy Information Administration, a federal statistical agency. Hydropower, biomass, and geothermal added another 7% for a total share of 21% renewables last year. The figure narrowly exceeded coal’s 20% share of electricity generation, which fell from 23% in 2021.
Texas Tops Wind-Generating State List
The growth in renewable electricity was largely driven by a surge in added wind and solar capacity, the agency said. Texas was the top wind-generating state last year, producing more than a quarter of all US wind generation. Iowa and Oklahoma landed at second and third in wind generation, accounting for 10% and 9% of national wind power, respectively.
California Leads Solar Electricity Production
California took the lead in solar, clocking in with 26% of the nation’s solar electricity. Texas came in second at 16%, followed by North Carolina at 8%. Renewable generation also exceeded nuclear for the second year in a row, after surging ahead for the first time in 2021.
Fossil Fuels Still Dominate Energy Mix
The report found that fossil fuels still dominate the country’s energy mix, with natural gas remaining the top source of electricity in the US. Its share rose from 37% of electricity generation in 2021 to 39% in 2022. Coal is expected to further decline from 20% to 17% for 2023, while natural gas generation is expected to remain unchanged.
More Progress Needed to Reach Climate Targets
Despite the encouraging news, some energy experts say the uptick in renewables still isn’t fast enough. The International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization, announced that global annual investments in renewables need to more than quadruple to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). The assessment echoes the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s top climate science body, which called for a rapid scale-down of greenhouse gas emissions largely produced from fossil fuels.
Policy Changes Needed to Remove Hurdles
To speed up renewable energy growth in the US, new policies may be necessary to address obstacles that impede the construction of clean energy infrastructure. Delays in connecting renewable energy projects have occurred due to outdated electrical grids, resulting in thousands of projects waiting for connection to the grid. Data from the Department of Energy shows that wind and solar projects awaiting connection have a completion rate of less than 20%. Developers also encounter additional permitting delays and expenses for new transmission lines to provide power to consumers.
Renewable electricity generation in the US has surpassed coal for the first time, a significant milestone in the shift towards clean energy. Wind and solar capacity expansion have largely driven the increase, with Texas and California leading in wind and solar respectively. However, the report also indicates that natural gas remains the primary source of electricity in the US, emphasizing the need for ongoing efforts to move away from fossil fuels.Read more: Renewable Energy Overtakes Coal In The US Energy Mix