Solar continues to dominate US energy growth, leading new capacity additions for six consecutive months

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The Solar Energy Resurgence: According to the latest data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), solar energy has once again outpaced all other sources of new electrical generating capacity in the U.S., marking its dominance for the sixth consecutive month. February saw solar contributing a staggering 83.64% of all new capacity, with 1,043 megawatts (MW) added.

The report, released as part of FERC’s monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update,” underscores a broader trend: solar, along with wind power, is growing much faster than previously anticipated. While solar topped the list, wind energy, represented by projects like the 200-MW Horizon Hill Wind Project in Oklahoma, accounted for 16.04% of new additions.

A Shifting Energy Landscape: As of February 2024, solar has increased its share of total U.S. utility-scale generating capacity to 8.21%, surpassing hydropower and trailing only natural gas, coal, and wind. FERC’s projections show that solar could overtake both coal and wind in terms of capacity within the next three years.

The robust growth in solar capacity is part of a larger movement towards renewable energy, which now makes up 29.30% of total utility-scale generating capacity in the U.S. This growth is largely driven by significant “high probability” additions forecasted by FERC, which predict solar adding another 87,749 MW by February 2027.

Underestimations and Future Projections: Historically, FERC’s forecasts for solar growth have proven conservative. Actual solar capacity additions have consistently surpassed projections, indicating a potential underestimation of future growth as well. Alongside utility-scale projects, distributed solar, such as rooftop PV systems, contribute significantly to the solar footprint, though they are not captured in FERC’s utility-scale data.

Implications for the Energy Market: The ongoing shift towards solar and other renewables is reshaping the energy market, potentially positioning renewables to rival or even surpass natural gas in the coming years. This transition supports not only a diversification of energy sources but also promotes sustainability and energy independence.

As the U.S. continues to invest in and expand its renewable energy capabilities, the role of solar within the nation’s energy portfolio is expected to grow exponentially, marking a pivotal shift towards cleaner and more sustainable energy solutions.

Now, let’s illustrate this significant shift in the energy landscape with a graphic.

The graphic created effectively highlights the prominence of solar energy in the U.S. energy market, capturing its leading role in new generating capacity. This visual representation showcases the dynamic growth of solar power, setting it apart from other energy sources and emphasizing its significant contribution to a sustainable future.

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