Record U.S. renewable electricity to replace fossil fuel power

Washington D.C. Correspondent
chart of U.S. new electric-generating capacity planned for 2023
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration • Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory, December 2022. All other additions—including biomass, geothermal and hydro—represent less than 1% of the total. All other plant retirements—including landfill gas, waste biomass and hydro—equal less than 1% of the total.

The U.S. electricity grid is undergoing a rapid energy about-face: A record amount of clean energy is set to come online this year at the same time fossil-fuel power plants keep retiring at a fast clip, according to new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The data is the latest to illustrate the energy transition in action across the world’s major electricity systems.

New utility scale solar arrays could provide nearly 30 additional gigawatts of power, more than half of the total electricity capacity (54.5 GW) developers plan to bring online in 2023, setting a new installation record, the EIA said.

Large-scale solar capacity now totals 73 GW in the U.S., including 10 GW added just in 2022.

“If all of this capacity comes online as planned, 2023 will have the most new utility-scale solar capacity added in a single year, more than doubling the current record (13.4 GW in 2021),” the EIA said.

Wind capacity, which has tripled since 2011 and now supplies 11% of total power in the U.S., will add only 6 GW in 2023, down from record highs of 14 GW brought online in 2020 and 2021.

Battery storage will more than double this year, adding 9.4 GW to the grid and exceeding the amount of new natural gas coming online for the first time.

This growth is coming despite delays connecting new generation plants to electricity grids, which Cipher wrote about last summer.

EIA data also show 8.9 GW of aging and inefficient coal-fired generation being retired, about 4.5% of all U.S. coal generation.

Favorable tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act and lower construction costs, especially for solar, will allow wind and solar to increasingly replace coal- and gas-fired generation in 2023 and 2024 in the U.S., EIA projected.