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Solar Power Expected To Overpower Hydropower In U.S. By 2024

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A new U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report suggests that the country’s annual solar power generation will overtake hydropower in 2024. The report estimates that the United States will generate 14% more electricity from solar energy than hydroelectric facilities next year. 

This reality underscores solar’s innate flexibility, as solar energy resources are located all across the country, over wide swaths of land, and can be easily used anywhere that receives sunlight. The exponential growth of the renewable capacity from coast to coast is a key component in its dominance. According to a report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie, nearly 32 new gigawatts of capacity were expected to come online by the end of 2023.

The increase comes on the heels of a deliberate effort by the United States to focus on clean and renewable energy sources. The amount of solar energy, known as insolation, available is

more than all the energy currently consumed by all human activities each year. 

Over the past 13 years, the infrastructure to capture this energy has increased at an average rate of 44% every year. Meanwhile, new hydroelectric capacity has increased by less than 1% annually. However, hydroelectric generation is tied directly to weather patterns, including annual rain amounts and long-term weather trends.

Photo Courtesy c2es

Overall, this is good news for America’s shift away from fossil fuels. The EIA’s report also suggests that the renewable portion of energy used in the U.S. will rise from 22 to 24% in 2024, with polluting carbon-based sources like natural gas and coal expected to each drop one point to 41% and 15%, respectively.

“The United States is now a dominant player in the global clean energy economy, and states like Florida, Texas, Ohio, and Georgia are at the forefront of this job growth and economic prosperity,” Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA president and CEO, said in a press release.

“The solar and storage industry is delivering abundant clean energy that is generating tens of billions of dollars of private investment, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Photo Courtesy SEIA

The shift to solar can mean great news for the economy. Each new solar project brings with it a significant number of high-paying clean energy jobs and wide-reaching economic boosts for their home regions, adding up to benefits across all sectors. 

Domestic and foreign companies have invested billions in the U.S. solar market recently. The bipartisan federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is credited with boosting infrastructure projects as the nation gears up for net-zero emissions by 2050.

“In the year since its passage, the IRA has undoubtedly caused a wave of optimism across the solar industry,” Michelle Davis, head of global solar at Wood Mackenzie, said in a statement. “Announcements for domestic module manufacturing have exploded, promising more stable solar module supply in the future.” 


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