Solar Surge: Dominating New Energy Capacity In The U.S.

Solar Energy Dominates New U.S. Capacity Additions in Early 2024

A recent review by the SUN DAY Campaign of data released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reveals that solar power is taking the lead in new capacity additions in the U.S. In the first quarter of 2024, solar accounted for nearly 87% of all new generating capacity, showcasing its significant impact on the energy landscape.

In March alone, solar power dominated with a staggering 99.7% of the new capacity added, marking the seventh consecutive month where solar has outpaced all other energy sources in new capacity additions. FERC’s “Energy Infrastructure Update” report indicates that 52 units of solar provided 2,833MW of new domestic generating capacity in March, nearly the entire total for that month.

For the first quarter of 2024, solar power contributed 86.79% (6,497MW) of the new generating capacity brought online. Wind energy followed with 12.40% (928MW), while natural gas added 49MW (0.65%). Other contributors included oil (5MW), biomass (3MW), “other” sources (3MW), and hydropower (1MW).

This trend highlights solar’s growing dominance, as it has been the largest source of new generating capacity since September 2023. In fact, the new photovoltaic (PV) capacity added in the first quarter of 2024 was more than double the amount added in the same period in 2023 (2,774MW).

Currently, solar and wind combined account for over a fifth (20.02%) of the nation’s installed utility-scale generating capacity. Including biomass (1.14%) and geothermal (0.33%), renewables now make up 29.37% of the total U.S. utility-scale generating capacity, up from 27.67% a year ago. Solar has recently surpassed nuclear power (8.01%) and is now the fourth-largest source of generating capacity, behind natural gas (43.79%), coal (15.87%), and wind.

Looking ahead, FERC reports that “high probability” additions of PV between April 2024 and March 2027 total 89,030MW. This is more than three and a half times the forecasted net “high probability” additions for wind (24,483MW), the second-fastest-growing resource.

Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, noted, “FERC’s data for the first quarter seem to confirm forecasts by multiple sources that solar will dominate new capacity additions in 2024. It is not unreasonable to suggest that solar’s growth this year will exceed expectations.”

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Credit: [Image: Unsplash/APPA]

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