US solar and wind production surpasses nuclear for first time

In the first half of 2024, for the first time in U.S. history, electricity production from utility-scale solar and wind farms overtook nuclear power plants, according to data from energy think tank Ember, cited by Reuters columnist Gavin Maguire.

Ember data shows that between January and June 2024, electricity production from solar and wind reached a record 401.4 terawatt-hours (TWh), surpassing the 390.5 TWh of energy generated by nuclear power plants.

Solar energy production increased by 30% and wind electricity production increased by 10% in the first half of 2024 compared to the same period last year.

According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) for 2023, nuclear energy accounted for 18.6% of U.S. electricity generation, while wind energy had a 10.2% share and solar energy 3.9% of total U.S. electricity generation.

Ember estimated that wind and solar would grow to 16% by 2023, when nuclear was still the largest source of low-carbon electricity in the U.S.

But expanding renewable energy capacity and record solar and wind production meant that solar and wind collectively overtook nuclear to become the largest low-carbon electricity source in the first half of this year.

In early 2024, the EIA announced that wind and solar will be the primary sources of growth in U.S. power generation over the next two years.

As a result of new solar projects coming online this year, the administration projects that U.S. solar energy production will increase by 75%, from 163 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 2023 to 286 billion kWh in 2025. The EIA also projects that wind energy production will increase by 11%, from 430 billion kWh in 2023 to 476 billion kWh in 2025.

In 2023, all renewable energy sources — wind, solar, hydro, biomass and geothermal — accounted for 22% of total U.S. energy production.

By Charles Kennedy for

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