US renewable capacity surpasses coal power for first time

A new report shows there was more biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind capacity installed on the US grid in April than plants set up to burn the fossil fuel

Festival Net Zero 2021

In April this year, US renewable capacity surpassed that of coal power for the first time in history.

An analysis of a new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) report conducted by the SUN DAY Campaign shows there was more biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind capacity installed on the US grid than plants set up to burn the polluting fossil fuel.

The report shows 1,545MW of new wind capacity and 1,473MW of new solar capacity were added during the first four months of this year, along with 29MW of new hydropower.

This saw renewable energy’s share of total available installed capacity rise to 21.56%, overtaking coal as its share dropped to 21.55%.

The milestone marks continued growth for the clean energy sector – renewables made up 20.66% of the country’s electricity a year ago and 18.16% of its mix three years ago

Over the last three years, utility-scale solar’s share has more than doubled from 1.42% to 3.23%, while wind’s share has increased from 6.43% to 8.25%.

Hydropower makes up the highest renewable proportion of the mix at 8.41%.

However, the FERC report predicts within the next three years, renewable sources will provide nearly a quarter of the nation’s total available capacity, with wind alone accounting for more than a tenth of this.

By May 2022, it predicts there could be a net increase in renewable energy capacity of 40,993MW.

Michael R. Bloomberg has committed to spend $500 million (£392m) on shutting down all remaining coal plants in the US by 2030.

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