This article was published by the US Energy Information Administration on March 27, 2023.
By Katherine Antonio
Last year, the U.S. electric power sector produced 4,090 million megawatthours (MWh) of electric power. In 2022, generation from renewable sources—wind, solar, hydro, biomass, and geothermal—surpassed coal-fired generation in the electric power sector for the first time. Renewable generation surpassed nuclear generation for the first time in 2021 and continued to provide more electricity than nuclear generation last year.
Natural gas remained the largest source of U.S. electricity generation, increasing from a 37 per cent share of U.S. generation in 2021 to 39 per cent in 2022. The share of coal-fired generation decreased from 23 per cent in 2021 to 20 per cent in 2022 as a number of coal-fired power plants retired and the remaining plants were used less. The share of nuclear generation decreased from 20 per cent in 2021 to 19 per cent in 2022, following the Palisades nuclear power plant’s retirement in May 2022. The combined wind and solar share of total generation increased from 12 per cent in 2021 to 14 per cent in 2022. Hydropower generation remained unchanged, at 6 per cent, in 2022. The shares for biomass and geothermal sources remained unchanged, at less than 1 per cent.
Growth in wind and solar generating capacity drove the increase in wind and solar generation. Utility-scale solar capacity in the U.S. electric power sector increased from 61 gigawatts (GW) in 2021 to 71 GW in 2022, according to data from our Electricity Power Monthly. Wind capacity grew from 133 GW in 2021 to 141 GW in 2022.
More wind-generated power was produced in Texas than in any other state last year. Texas accounted for 26 per cent of total U.S. wind generation last year, followed by Iowa (10 per cent) and Oklahoma (9 per cent). One of the largest wind farms in the United States (nearly 1,000 megawatt capacity [MW]) came online in Oklahoma in 2022.
In 2022, California ranked first in utility-scale solar generation, producing 26 per cent of the country’s utility-scale solar electricity. Texas was the second-largest producing state (16 per cent), followed by North Carolina (8 per cent). Several of the largest solar plants built in the United States in the last three years are located in Texas, including the 275 MW Noble solar plant, which started operations in 2022.
In our March Short-Term Energy Outlook, we forecast the wind share of the U.S. generation mix will increase from 11 per cent last year to 12 per cent this year. We forecast that the solar share will grow to 5 per cent in 2023, up from 4 per cent last year. The natural gas share of generation is forecast to remain unchanged from last year (39 per cent); the coal share of generation is forecast to decline from 20 per cent last year to 17 per cent in 2023.
The electric power sector includes electric utilities and independent power producers. It does not include generators in the industrial, commercial, or residential sectors, such as rooftop solar panels installed on homes or businesses or some combined-heat-and-power systems.