The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects annual solar generation to surpass annual hydropower generation in 2024 for the first time.
The EIA’s “Short-Term Energy Outlook,” released today, forecasts that the US will generate 14% more solar electricity than hydropower in 2024. That’s based on continued growth in new utility-scale and small-scale (e.g., rooftop) solar.
From 2009 to 2022, installed US solar capacity increased at an average rate of 44% annually, and installed US hydropower increased by less than 1% annually. In 2019, annual wind generation surpassed annual hydropower generation. The growth of US solar and wind are following a similar pattern, largely following an increase in installed capacity.
Incentives such as tax credits created by the Inflation Reduction Act have ramped up growth in renewable generation capacity. By August 2023, installed US solar capacity totaled more than 125 gigawatts (GW), including 80 GW of utility-scale solar and around 45 GW of small-scale solar. US hydropower has remained relatively steady at about 80 GW for the past few decades.
Weather patterns reduced US hydroelectric generation through August this year. Hydropower generation depends on seasonal hydrologic conditions and long-term weather trends. Although weather patterns also affect solar and wind, the most significant contributor to their additional generation is because they’ve had the fastest growth in generating capacity.
Photo: Dominion Energy Virginia; Chart, EIA
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