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Solar and wind to surpass coal in the US from 2024

Picture: Dreamstime
Picture: Dreamstime

From 2024 onwards, solar and wind facilities in the US will generate more electricity than the country’s diminishing fleet of coal-fired power plants, according to the department of energy.

The world’s largest economy will likely add 23 gigawatts (GW) of new solar in 2023, alongside 9GW of battery storage capacity. It’s on track to follow that up with 37GW of new solar and well over 10GW of additional batteries in 2024, per the department’s Energy Information Administration.

“We expect solar and wind generation together in 2024 to overtake electric power generation from coal for the first year ever, exceeding coal by nearly 90 billion kilowatt-hours,” or 15%.

The nation’s coal fleet is rapidly shrinking, while output from fossil gas plants is plateauing.

“Coal production is becoming even less cost competitive in power markets as more renewable capacity comes online and Inflation Reduction Act policies further bolster zero-carbon generation,” the department said.

Solar is comfortably the fastest-growing generating capacity source, followed by batteries and wind.

The US government plans to get to 80% renewable-based electricity by 2030, and a 100% carbon-free power system by 2035.

Much work needs to be done to get there. In 2024, fossil gas will likely hold a 42% share of the electricity mix, followed by renewables at 24%, nuclear at 19%, and coal at 15%.

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