Renewables provided almost 30% of US electrical generation in March

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Renewables are now the second-largest source of US electrical generation behind natural gas, which averaged a 40.5% share during Q1 2024 but fell to 39.4% in March.

The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) newest “Electric Power Monthly” report (with data through March 31, 2024) reports that utility-scale and small-scale (e.g., rooftop) solar combined increased by 25.7% in Q1 2024 compared to Q1 2023.

Small-scale solar alone grew by 20.4% while utility-scale solar thermal and photovoltaic expanded by 28.4% – faster than any other energy source.

As a result, solar made up 5.3% of total US electrical generation during Q1 2024 and growing. In March alone, its share rose to 6.9%, tying with hydropower. Solar is predicted to surpass hydropower within the next few months to become the second-largest renewable energy source behind wind.

Small-scale solar accounted for 31.5% of all solar generation in Q1 2024 and provided 1.7% of US electricity supply.

Electrical production by hydropower and wind showed signs of recovery in Q1, following significant declines in 2023. Hydropower’s output rose 4.3% year-over-year in Q1 2024. And for March alone, hydropower was 13.6% above the level reported in March 2023. Wind was still down 2.8% year-over-year in Q1 2024, but it was up 2.9% year-over-year in the month of March.

Electrical generation by all renewables – solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, and geothermal – grew by 3.7% in Q1 2024 year-over-year and provided 24.7% of total generation. That share rose to 29.2% in March alone, compared to 26.3% in March 2023.

Electrical generation provided by solar and wind combined (17.1%) surpassed that of coal (15.2%) during Q1 2024 and nearly doubled coal’s share in March alone (20.8% vs. 11.6%).

Electrical generation by renewables outproduced US nuclear power plants by 30.3% during Q1. In March alone, the share of electricity from solar and wind combined (20.8%) was greater than that of nuclear power (19.2%).

“More records were broken in March as wind plus solar produced more electricity than either nuclear power or coal and solar was on the verge of overtaking hydropower,” noted executive director Ken Bossong of the SUN DAY Campaign, who reviewed the EIA’s data. “The mix of renewables provided almost 30% of US electrical generation in March and seems likely to surpass that level in the coming months.” 

Read more: How renewables could beat natural gas in US generating capacity within 3 years – in numbers


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