Not long ago, many states across the country were setting goals to obtain 20% of their electricity from renewable sources. For a few states, like New York and Washington, ample amounts of hydropower made 20% an easy target. But for many others, 20% seemed like a very ambitious objective.
Things have certainly changed. According to the latest monthly Short Term Energy Outlook, a report from the federal government, the combination of wind, solar, and other renewable sources will exceed one-quarter of the country’s generation by 2024.
Renewables are already at 24% of U.S. electricity generation and are expected to rise to 26% by next year. Coal, which used to be the largest source of electricity, will continue to drop from its current 18% to 17% by next year. Overall, renewables passed coal for the first full year in 2020. Coal staged a bit of a comeback in 2021, but has once again resumed its decline. Many coal-fired power plants continue to close, and there are not new ones being built because of diminishing economic benefits as well as concerns about emissions.
The largest source of electricity generation continues to be natural gas at 38%, but that number is also expected to slowly decrease over time. The growth in renewable energy is coming from wind and solar power. Two-thirds of that growth is from solar and one-third is from wind.
Together, wind and solar power will add up to 18% of the country’s electricity supply. The government still tracks them lumped together as renewables, but both are so large and growing so quickly that the Energy Information Agency is likely to soon start tracking them as separate categories.
Photo, posted April 18, 2011, courtesy of Allan Der via Flickr.