Renewables produced more power than coal or nuclear power in the USA last year for the first time in history, according to a new report by the Energy Information Administration. With surges in wind, solar and hydroelectric power, the renewable industry produced 21 percent of all electricity generation in the US last year, a massive increase over the previous decade.
Over the past year, the US has seen record growth in renewable power generation, adding 26 gigawatts of production capability in 2020 alone, 80 percent more than 2019. Combined with previous infrastructure, it brought the total renewable power production up to 170 gigawatts, which edged out both nuclear and coal by just a few percent (20 percent and 19 percent of total energy production, respectively).
This now moves renewables into the second-largest generator of electricity, though still trailing natural gas by a large margin of 19 percent. However, between renewables and nuclear, 41 percent of American electricity generation is now low-carbon or carbon-free.
While the trajectory is incredibly promising, the EIA still expects coal generation to rise as natural gas becomes more expensive. However, renewables are expected to continue to grow rapidly, with an estimated 10 percent more production in 2022.