The electrical output generated by renewables provided 20.6% of the total electrical output in the US in 2020 — an increase of 9.2% over 2019, according to SUN DAY Campaign analysis of new data released by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Electrical generation by coal in 2020 was 19.8% lower than a year earlier. While natural gas continued to provide the largest share (39.9%) of the nation’s electrical output, it grew by only 2% during the year. Total US electrical generation decreased by 2.7%, due in part to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the data.
Wind and solar generated more electricity in 2020 than ever before: combined, they were up 16.7% in 2020 from 2019 levels. Solar alone expanded by 24.1% compared to 2019, providing nearly 3.3% of the nation’s total. Wind grew by 14.1%, accounting for 8.3% of the total. No other energy sources experienced similarly high growth rates, according to the data. Geothermal energy and hydropower increased by 9.4% and 1.1% respectively, while biomass fell by 2.5%.
In fact, renewables modestly surpassed an EIA forecast, issued just two weeks ago, of 20.0% of US electricity coming from green sources in 2020. In its “Annual Energy Outlook 2021, the EIA projects that the share of renewables in the US electricity generation mix will increase to 42% in 2050. Wind and solar generation will be responsible for most of that growth.
Renewable sources have doubled their share of the nation’s electrical generation over the past decade, up from 13.6% at the end of 2015 and just 10.4% at the end of 2010. Within the next five years, renewables will likely provide more than a quarter of the nation’s electrical generation, says SUN DAY Campaign’s executive director Ken Bossong.