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Solar Neared 100 Percent of New Capacity in March

In March 2024, solar hit 99.7% of U.S. electrical generating capacity added. This marks the seventh consecutive month in which solar was the top new energy source, with new solar capacity from the first quarter of 2024 doubling the amount for the same quarter in 2023.  

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Energy Infrastructure Update, which includes data through March 31, 2024, showed solar at 86.8 percent of all new capacity for the first quarter of 2024. A total of 52 units of solar provided 2,833 MW of new domestic generating capacity in March for 99.72 percent of the total. Other new sources included 3 MW each of new biomass and oil capacity and 1 MW each of new hydropower and natural gas capacity. 

The report puts solar on track to surpass the individual capacities of wind and coal within three years. FERC predicts an addition of 89,030 MW in solar from April 2024 through March 2027 — more than three times the forecasted growth of 24,483 MW for wind, the second fastest-growing resource. 

During this same period, FERC foresees growth for hydropower (568 MW), geothermal (400MW) and biomass (91 MW). Declines are expected for coal (27,077 MW), natural gas (2,386) and oil (2,015 MW). 

The FERC report only includes data for utility-scale facilities and does not reflect the capacity of distributed renewables, such as rooftop solar PV.  

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates small-scale solar PV at nearly one-third of the nation’s electrical generation by solar and a larger share of total installed solar capacity, suggesting that the total capacity of distributed and utility-scale solar combined is significantly more than the 8.25 percent FERC reported as solar’s share of total capacity at the end of March. EIA puts the figure at closer to 12.0 percent and forecasts potential growth to exceed 20 percent within three years. 

 Learn more here. 

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