All renewables combined are nearly 30% of U.S. electrical generation in March

EIA’s 1Q’24 data confirm solar continues as fastest growing source of electricity while hydro and wind rebound Solar + wind have overtaken coal & nuclear, and solar alone is about to surpass hydropower

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May 28, 2024  

 Washington DC – A review by the SUN DAY Campaign of data recently released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirms that solar has continued its decade-long streak as the nation’s fastest growing source of electricity. 

Key Trends:

In its latest monthly "Electric Power Monthly" report (with data through March 31, 2024), EIA says the combination of utility-scale and small-scale (e.g., rooftop) solar increased by 25.7% in the first three months of 2024 compared to the first quarter of 2023. Small-scale solar alone grew by 20.4% while utility-scale solar thermal and photovoltaic expanded by 28.4% - substantially faster than any other energy source.

As a consequence, solar was 5.3% of total U.S. electrical generation during the first quarter and growing rapidly. In March alone, its share rose to 6.9%.

Small-scale solar accounted for nearly a third (31.5%) of all solar generation in the first three months of this year and provided 1.7% of U.S. electricity supply. [1]

Further, following significant declines in 2023, electrical production by both hydropower and wind showed signs of recovery.

For the first quarter, hydropower’s output rose 4.3% compared to the first three months of 2023. Moreover, for March alone, hydro production was 13.6% above the level reported a year earlier.

Electrical generation by wind in the first quarter of 2024 was still 2.8% less than that of a year ago. However, wind-generated electricity in March 2024 was 2.9% above the level recorded in March 2023.

Electrical generation by the mix of all renewables (i.e., solar, wind and hydropower plus biomass and geothermal) grew by 3.7% in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period a year earlier and provided 24.7% of total generation. That share rose to 29.2% in the month of March alone. A year earlier, it had been 26.3%.

Other Developments:

Solar generation (6.9% of the total) pulled nearly even with hydropower in March (also 6.9%) [2] and should surpass it within the next few months to become the second largest renewable energy source – behind only wind (whose own output is now almost double that of hydro).

Similarly, the combined shares of electrical generation provided by solar and wind (17.1%) surpassed that of coal (15.2%) during the first quarter and nearly doubled coal’s share in March alone (20.8% vs. 11.6%).

Electrical generation by the combination of all renewables out-produced the nation’s nuclear power plants by almost a third (30.3%) during the first quarter. Moreover, in the month of March alone, the share of electricity provided by just solar and wind combined (20.8%) was greater than that of nuclear power (19.2%).

Taken together, renewables strengthened their position as the second largest source of electrical generation, behind only natural gas – whose share averaged 40.5% during the first quarter but fell to 39.4% in March.

"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 the SUN DAY Campaign's executive director Ken Bossong. "The mix of renewables provided almost 30% of U.S. electrical generation in March and seems likely to surpass that level in the coming months." 

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EIA released its latest “Electric Power Monthly” report on May 23, 2024. The full report can be found at: https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly

For the data cited in this release, see Table ES1.B (“Total Electric Power Industry Summary Statistics, Year-to-Date 2024 and 2023”) as well as Table ES1.A (“Total Electric Power Industry Summary Statistics, 2024 and 2023”)



[1] In its “Electric Power Monthly” report, EIA refers to small-scale or distributed solar as “Estimated Small Scale Solar Photovoltaic.” All calculations presented in this release assume the inclusion of electrical generation by small-scale solar which EIA estimates to have totaled 17,330 gigawatthours (GWh) in the first quarter of 2024.


[2] In March 2024, utility-scale and small-scale solar combined produced 22,799 GWh (6.89% of total U.S. electrical generation) while hydropower produced 22,945 GWh (6.94%).


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The SUN DAY Campaign is a non-profit research and educational organization founded in 1992 to support a rapid transition to 100% reliance on sustainable energy technologies as a cost-effective alternative to nuclear power and fossil fuels and as a solution to climate change. Follow on Twitter (or “X”): @SunDayCampaign  




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