Renewable energy to overtake coal in US for first ever time this year

More than 20 per cent of power in the US will be supplied by wind, solar and hydropower in 2022 (Getty Images/ iStock)
More than 20 per cent of power in the US will be supplied by wind, solar and hydropower in 2022 (Getty Images/ iStock)

Renewable energy sources like solar and wind will generate more power than coal or nuclear in the United States for the first time this year.

Figures from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecast that more than a fifth of all electricity will come from hydropower, solar and wind.

“We expect renewable sources to provide 22 per cent of US electricity generation in 2022 and 24 per cent in 2023 as generation from natural gas declines from 38 per cent in 2022 to 36 per cent in 2023,” the report stated.

“The increase in renewables generation comes mostly from solar and wind capacity additions.”

By contrast, coal will see a drop in its energy production share to 20 per cent in 2022, while nuclear will provide 19 per cent.

Overall, solar and wind energy production were up 18 per cent year-on-year in November, and up 58 per cent since 2019.

Despite the encouraging trend towards clean energy, researchers warn that the US will need to increase its solar and wind production at an even greater rate if it is to meet its climate targets.

Estimates suggest the US needs to install 50GW of renewable energy over the next two years in order to keep on track, which is double the amount installed in 2020 and 2021.

Since its peak a decade ago, coal generation in the US has been on the decline, with roughly 47GW of coal-fired capacity retired over the last seven years.

“The important thing is it continues to grow and we get more capacity installed and output from renewables,” Steve Cicala, an economics professor at Tufts University, told Scientific American.

“The reason that is important is it will mean less generation from fossil resources.”