The year 2020 wasn’t only a great one for the solar power industry, but renewable energy sources in general. Together, they accounted for 21% of electricity generated in the U.S., or 834 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, according to PV Magazine. This made renewables the second-most prevalent electricity source in the nation.
In fact, renewables surpassed nuclear and coal for the first time. Based on numbers from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), only natural gas produced more electricity than renewables. It accounted for 1,617 kWh of electricity produced for the year. An increase in use of solar and wind, and decrease in coal use, led to a shift in the prevalence of specific forms of electricity generation.2
How Market Conditions Changed
In 2019, coal use decreased 20%. There was, on the other hand, a 9% increase in small-scale renewables overall. Wind power grew 14% year over year and remains the most prevalent renewable electricity source in the U.S. But that doesn’t overshadow how robust the solar power industry and market truly is. While small-scale installations, such as rooftop solar panels connected to the electrical grid, increased 19%, utility scale solar generation, or projects greater than 1 megawatt, increased 26%.1
Natural gas accounted for 40% of electricity generation, while nuclear stood at 20% and coal was 19% following its peak of 2,016 billion kWh in 2007. The decline in coal has been fed by replacements or conversions to natural gas-fired generation. It was the largest source of electricity in the nation until 2016 but the EIA expects an increase in coal in 2021 as prices for natural gas rise. As far as nuclear electricity generation is concerned, the retirement of several nuclear power plants led to a 2% decline in nuclear electric power from 2019 to 2020.2
Renewables Will Continue to Grow
The rise of renewables isn’t expected to slow down after 2020’s record. In 2021, the EIA anticipates a 7% increase in renewable generation across all sectors. An even faster pace of growth is expected for 2022, when a 10% increase is expected.
But record-setting growth isn’t limited to the United States. Green energy grew at a record pace worldwide in 2020. An International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report found that over 80% of all new electricity generating projects were renewable, and solar generation increased 22% globally over 2019. And about 111 gigawatts of wind power were added in 2020, up from 58 gigawatts that came on-line the year before. Also, IRENA found renewables accounted for 36.6% of global electricity capacity, an increase of two points over 2019.
How You Can Keep Up with the Demand
Installing a solar energy system is challenging work, however, you don’t have to take it on yourself. Sunworks USA can take care of all your solar needs, so you don’t need to put up with rising utility bills. We’re a one-stop residential, commercial, and agricultural solar integrator and find custom solar solutions for every client. Our clients count on us to design their system based on their energy consumption. Each system is designed based on how much energy the customer plans to offset.
Once it’s installed, we turn the system on so you can start saving on energy costs. We continue to help run and maintain your system long after installation, just as we handle permitting, design, materials procurement, and construction. Our team handles every aspect of the project to make investing in solar easy. To learn more how we can help you and continue contributing to the growth in solar electricity generation, call us at 866-600-6800.