Renewable Energy Seeing Double-Digit Growth

Solar panels with wind turbines in the background

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently reported that renewable solar- and wind-generated power will be the fastest growing sources of U.S. electricity generation for at least the next two years. Electricity generation from solar power will grow by 10% in 2019 and 17 % in 2020. Similarly, wind generation will grow by 12% and 14% during the next two years.

The EIA forecasts that total U.S. electricity generation across all fuels will fall by 2% this year and then show limited growth in 2020.

The share of total electricity generation in the U.S. produced by all renewables, other than hydropower, will increase from the current rate of 10% to 13% of total generation in 2020. New generating capacity is the primary driver of the growth.

Approximately 11 gigawatts of wind capacity is scheduled to come online this year — the largest amount since 2012 and enough to pass hydropower in terms of electricity generation. Another 8 GW of wind capacity is scheduled to become available in 2020, increasing its total contribution to the U.S. from 7% to 9%.

Solar is the third-largest contributor to U.S. electricity generation, and will add more than 4 GW of generation capacity in 2019 and another 6 GW in 2020. Combined, this represents an increase of 32% from 2018 totals. Solar will contribute just over 2% of total utility-scale generation in 2020.

This growth is driven, in part, by businesses and residences installing small-scale solar photovoltaic systems to supply some of their electricity. This small-scale solar generation is projected to grow by almost 44%, or 9 GW, over the next two years.

However, even with this significant level of growth, coal and natural gas combined will provide 63% of electricity generation in 2018 and will provide 61% in 2020. The other primary contributor, nuclear power, will remain steady at about 20%.


Image credit: hrui /

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