Energy & Environment

US electricity from renewables surpasses coal for first time

FILE – Wind turbines stand in fields near Palm Springs, Calif, March 22, 2023. Electricity generated from renewables surpassed coal in the United States for the first time in 2022, the U.S. Energy Information Administration announced Monday, March 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)

Renewable energy for the first time comprised more electricity generated in the U.S. last year than coal or nuclear power, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The federal agency found the growth was largely driven by increased proliferation of wind and solar energy, which collectively made up 14 percent of U.S. electricity in 2022, up from 12 percent in 2021.

Coal power, meanwhile, fell from 23 percent in 2021 to 20 percent in 2022, which the EIA attributed to a combination of retired plants and lower use for the remaining plants.

Among individual states, Texas dominated wind generation, making up 26 percent of national wind power, while Iowa comprised 10 percent and Oklahoma, which saw one of the biggest wind farms in the country begin operations last year, with 9 percent.

California, meanwhile, led the states among solar power generation, with 26 percent of all utility-scale solar electricity, followed by Texas with 16 percent and North Carolina with 8 percent. In addition to its wind capacity, Texas has seen a surge in solar buildout in recent years.

Despite the increase in renewable generation, natural gas remained the top source of U.S. electricity, increasing from 37 percent in 2021 to 39 percent in 2022.

In a statement to The Hill, Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said the surge was largely the result of economic factors, with wind energy and solar energy costs falling by 70 percent and 90 percent, respectively, in the last decade.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which passed through Congress with only Democratic votes, included $369 billion in climate and clean energy investments, with the vast majority comprised of tax incentives.

“[W]hile much remains to be done to achieve our nation’s climate targets, with the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act, we now have a clear pathway toward the clean energy future that Americans want and climate scientists say we desperately need,” Wetstone said.

“The legislation’s landmark clean energy tax platform is expected to further accelerate U.S. renewable energy development, create hundreds of thousands of good-paying American jobs, and drive a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.”

Tags Coal Renewable energy solar power wind energy

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