Increased US power generation from mostly wind and solar will reduce generation from both coal and natural gas power plants in 2023 and 2024, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) “Short-Term Energy Outlook.”
The EIA forecasts that solar and wind, including new projects coming online this year, will account for 16% of total generation in 2023, up from 14% last year and 8% in 2018.
In contrast, the EIA’s forecast share of generation from coal falls from 20% in 2022 to 18% in 2023, and to 17% in 2024. The forecast share from natural gas declines from 39% to 38% in 2023, and to 37% in 2024.
Solar and wind has grown at a rapid pace in the last five years. The US electricity sector operated around 74 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV capacity at the end of 2022 – three times the capacity at the end of 2017. US wind power has grown by more than 60% since 2017, to about 143 GW of capacity.
Solar capacity is expected to expand another 63 GW (84%) by the end of 2024, thanks to declining construction costs and tax credits. So the EIA forecasts that the solar generation share will rise from 3% of US generation in 2022 to 5% in 2023 and 6% in 2024.
Much of the growth in solar capacity is in Texas and California, where natural gas has been the primary source of electricity.
Top comment by Joseph Brown
The EIA has a terrible track record when it comes to making statements about the future; seriously, their predictions are often laughably bad. Coincidentally, their predictions almost always paint as rosy a picture as possible for coal and other fossil fuels. Since this prediction is a warning to the fossil status-quo, I have to wonder if the next year or two might not see a pretty large reduction in fossil energy -- we will see.
Despite their past failures at prognostication, the EIA is an excellent resource for historical data.
Scheduled wind power growth is at about 12 GW of new planned capacity over the next two years. The forecast wind generation share in 2023 remains relatively similar to 2022, averaging 11%, and then increases to 12% in 2024.
Photo: “Three pigeons on a roof” by Dunnock_D is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
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