Combined U.S. solar and wind electricity generation are expected to surpass coal-fired generation for the first time in 2024, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Solar and wind electricity generation are expected to exceed coal by nearly 90 billion kilowatt-hours.
On Tuesday (Dec. 12), the EIA released its Short-Term Energy Outlook for December and attributed the rise in solar generation to the continued increase in solar capacity. In 2024, 37 gigawatts of new solar capacity is expected to start operating and will contribute to a 39% rise in U.S. solar generation from 2023.
“Renewables, particularly solar photovoltaics, are growing rapidly and making large contributions to electricity generation,” said EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis.
In 2023, 23 gigawatts of solar capacity is projected to begin operating, contributing to 15% growth in U.S. solar generation from 2022.
The EIA expects natural gas prices to be $2.77 per million British thermal units this winter, about 23% lower than previously expected. The winter season has been warmer than expected so far, and U.S. households are using less natural gas for heat than expected. The lower consumption level is contributing to rising U.S. natural gas inventories, which typically result in lower prices.
“We’re seeing record domestic natural gas production paired with lower-than-expected natural gas demand, and we expect that is going to push prices lower this winter season,” DeCarolis said.
The EIA will include its first forecasts for the energy sector through 2025 in its Short-Term Energy Outlook for January. The outlook is set to be released on Jan. 9.