Solar has seen the most growth so far in 2022, increasing by 25.7%, but it falls behind wind (10.75%) and hydropower (7%) in the country’s total electricity generation at 5%. Wind production is up 18.6%, and together wind and solar have grown 58% since 2019, according to EIA numbers.
Renewable energy sources outproduced coal by 15.5% through the first three quarters of the year, and nuclear power by more than 28%. Over the past five years, renewable energy has moved from fourth to second among electrical generating sources, according to analysis from the Sun Day Campaign, with coal falling to third.
Through September 2022, renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, and biomass have provided nearly 23% of the US’s electrical generation, according to the EIA’s Electric Power Monthly report, which is up from approximately 20% in 2021. Renewable sources also increased their electrical output by 15.44% compared to the same period last year.
Renewable energy production is a key piece of the Inflation Reduction Act, which aims to reduce emissions in the US by 40% through 2030, especially through increased domestic renewable energy manufacturing and production. The recently concluded COP27 also saw some desire for the phase-out of fossil fuels, although no significant action was taken to do so.
Several large energy projects are planned in the US. Among them is a 3-gigawatt wind, solar, and energy storage joint venture by YA Renewables and Oil Well Shares in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. A 2.6 GW offshore wind project in Virginia is also seeking final approval.
Other sources besides wind and solar saw increased generation so far this year as well. Hydropower is up nearly 8% and geothermal is up approximately 7%. The latter is an energy source the Department of Energy has targeted for its potential and is looking to greatly expand its production.
Overall, the Sun Day Campaign says despite the growth there are signs of renewable sources slowing for the remainder of 2022. Wind, for example, is down year-over-year, with a decrease in the generation of 6.8% compared to September 2021.
Volatility in the market also has had energy industry leaders adjusting their transition plans, according to a recent survey from Womble Bond Dickinson. That includes using traditional sources such as fuel or coal, but the majority are still focused on increasing renewable energy.
Power Purchase Agreement prices were up for both wind and solar developments in North America through the third quarter, according to LevelTen Energy. However, demand is likely to remain strong, especially from corporations and utilities, as the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act remains to be seen.
The EIA has forecast that renewable energy sources would produce 22% of US electricity in 2022, and 24% in 2023, mostly from wind and solar sources.