Wind + solar produced more electricity than coal in the US in the first third of 2023

Electricity generated from wind and solar outproduced coal and nearly tied nuclear during the first four months of 2023 in the US, according to new data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” report (with data through April 30, 2023) reveals that in the first third of this year, electricity generated from solar (including small-scale distributed systems) grew by 10.24%, compared to the same period in 2022 – faster than any other energy source, according to the SUN DAY Campaign, who reviewed the data.

That was driven in large part by growth in “estimated” small-scale (e.g., rooftop) solar PV, which output increased by 24.88% and accounted for nearly a third (32.33%) of total solar production.

The mix of utility-scale and small-scale solar PV plus utility-scale solar thermal provided 5.05% of the US’s electrical output during the first four months of 2023.

Electricity generated by wind increased by 1.97% compared to the same period in 2022 and provided 12.85% of total US electrical generation.

Wind and solar together provided 17.91% of the US’s electrical output in the first third of 2023. That was more than coal (14.98%) and close to that of nuclear power (19.17%).

If biomass, geothermal, and hydropower are included as renewable energy sources, then it accounts for 25.73% of the US’s electrical generation. That’s slightly up from 25.35% in 2022, notwithstanding a sharp drop in hydropower output (down 14%) due to drought, particularly in the West.

By comparison, electrical generation by coal saw a year-over-year nosedive of -28.4%, while nuclear power was essentially unchanged, at 0.1%. Natural gas grew by 9.9%.

SUN DAY Campaign’s executive director Ken Bossong noted, “The mix of all renewables continues to set new records and will very possibly surpass 25% for the year.”

According to a new survey from Pew Research Center released today, 67% of US adults prioritize the development of renewable energy over increasing the production of fossil fuels.

However, just 31% of Americans currently support phasing out fossil fuel energy sources entirely, and another 32% say the US should eventually stop using fossil fuels but don’t believe the country is ready now. And 35% think the US should never stop using fossil fuels to meet its energy needs.

Fortunately, the fossil fuel fans are outnumbered.

Read more: Renewables powered nearly 23% of US electricity as of Oct. 2022

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