Shortly before the holiday season, the US Energy Information Agency published data about the country’s electricity production, indicating that 40% of US electricity is now generated without producing carbon emissions.
The data shows that when put together, the three main renewable sources—solar, wind, and hydroelectric—make up approximately 22 percent of electricity generation so far this year, which is an increase of around 0.5 percent compared to last year.
When nuclear power (18%) and renewables (22%) are combined as generation without emissions, the total has risen by nearly 1 percent since 2022 and is expected to exceed 40 percent of US electricity production for the first time.
Natural gas (44%) and coal (16%) are the other primary sources of electricity in the nation.
The report also indicates that wind and solar together currently account for 16 percent of the production so far this year, putting them on track to be in close competition with coal for the year and to surpass it easily next year.
The published data covers the time frame from the beginning of the current year until October, so it does not give a complete picture of the entire year in 2023.
There are various factors that may cause differences between the latter months of the year and the earlier ones. Some types of energy generation are seasonal, especially solar power, which has its highest output during the summer months.
Weather also has an impact, as abnormally high demand for heating in the winter months could necessitate the use of older fossil fuel plants. It also affects the production from hydroelectric plants, leading to significant year-to-year variability.
Additionally, the ongoing surge in the construction of solar and natural gas facilities should be taken into account. It is possible that enough new solar infrastructure will be built throughout the year to offset the seasonal decline towards the end of the year.
Despite the positive trend of renewable energy production, the current pace of progress is unfortunately not fast enough for the US to reach a carbon-neutral electricity grid by the end of the decade.