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EIA: Solar Leading in Energy Generation Growth, Coal Decline Continues

Solar power is expected to be the leading source of growth in electricity generation in the U.S. in 2024 and 2025, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA).

The agency’s recent Short-Term Energy Outlook, which is published monthly, is the first to include forecasts for 2025. The EIA said that 36 gigawatts (GW) of capacity will come online this year, with another 43 GW expected in 2024. That will boost the share of generation from solar to 6% of the energy mix in 2024 and 7% in 2025.

In the total electric generation mix for 2024, natural gas is expected to continue to be the leader, providing 42% of the nation’s power, while coal will continue to fall, down 2% to 15%. That is followed by renewables, in which solar is included, at 24%, while nuclear holds steady at 19%.

In addition to an increase in solar, wind generation is also expected to increase, reaching 12% in 2025. Battery storage, which takes in excess wind and solar energy to be used when those two sources are not producing, is also on the rise, with an installed capacity of 40 GW by 2025.

However, U.S. crude oil production will also continue to rise, reaching 13.2 million barrels per day in 2024 and 13.4 million in 2025, both new records. Natural gas production also grows between 1 and 2%, but at a slower pace than before.

The EIA continues to predict that coal use for power production will continue to drop to below 430 million short tons in 2025, which would be the least coal produced in the U.S. since the early 1960s.

While the decline in coal use should result in less energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the EIA said that won’t happen in 2024 as emissions levels remain unchanged. An anticipated 6% decline in coal emissions will be offset by a 2% increase from natural gas and 1% increase from petroleum. In 2025, emissions for all fuels will decline, the EIA predicts, as coal use continues to decline, and emissions of energy production from renewables and biodiesel fuel sources offset some natural gas use.

The EIA forecasts are just that and can be affected by colder or hotter weather than expected, leading to increased energy use, as well as geopolitical instability that could affect fuel sources and availability. However, renewables look to continue to become a bigger factor in the nation’s energy mix in the coming years.

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