Curtis Tate Published

Wind, Solar Leave Coal In The Dust So Far This Year, Data Show

Black solar panels spread out over a rolling hill, with new grass planted below and a gravel road running between them.
The Fort Martin solar installation.
Curtis Tate/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Renewables outpaced coal in the first five months of the year, growing a gap that began last year.

By the end of May last year, wind and solar barely edged out coal in the nation’s electricity mix.

The gap has grown wider this year, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Wind and solar combined generated 288 million megawatt hours from January to May, 10 percent more than coal.

For the first five months of 2023, wind and solar generated 253 million megawatt hours, 1.5 percent more than coal.

Wind alone surpassed coal in March and April. It’s typical for coal generation to drop during those months because plant maintenance tends to occur between winter and summer.

The federal agency forecasts that wind and solar generation will surpass coal for all of 2024. 

For now, natural gas remains the nation’s dominant fuel for electricity. Renewables, meanwhile, especially solar, are growing rapidly.

The EIA forecasts a 75 percent increase in solar generation from 2023 to 2025 and an 11 percent increase in wind generation. It forecasts coal generation to decline 18 percent.