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Renewable energy has evolved over the last 15 years, but fossil gas dinosaurs still rule the U.S. energy landscape.
However, coal is edging toward extinction and nuclear has plateaued, according to new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Power generation from renewable sources — mostly wind, solar and hydro — surpassed coal-fired generation in the U.S. for the first time last year. Renewables surpassed nuclear power generation for the second year in a row.
The driver for this shift is simple: Renewables were the cheapest and fastest-growing source of new electricity in most of the country in 2022.
But natural gas remains the largest source of U.S. electricity generation by far, and it also grew last year — from 37 percent of U.S. generation in 2021 to 39 percent in 2022. Coal-fired generation decreased from 23 percent in 2021 to 20 percent in 2022. Nuclear generation decreased from 20 percent in 2021 to 19 percent in 2022.
The combined share of total generation from wind and solar increased from 12 percent in 2021 to 14 percent in 2022.
Texas dominated in wind power generation last year, while California ranked first in utility-scale solar generation, accounting for 26 percent of U.S. electricity generated by large solar projects. Texas ranked second for solar production and is expected to become the leader in cumulative solar generation capacity sometime this year.
And for what it’s worth, EIA forecasts, long derided by critics as overly conservative and thus unreliable when it comes to renewables growth, estimate that the share of generation from natural gas in 2023 will remain unchanged from last year, while coal is forecast to continue its decline in 2023.
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