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U.S. Has Record Year in Renewables

Last year was a record year for renewable-energy installations in the U.S., according to POLITICO Pro (subscription).

What’s going on: “Companies installed a record 33.8 gigawatts of clean energy projects across the United States last year, breaking the previous record by more than 12%, according to the American Clean Power Association’s annual market report that examined utility-scale solar, wind and battery power.”

  • Despite the marked growth, however, the U.S. is still behind “what is needed … to achieve [President] Biden’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.”

The details: Solar, battery storage and wind made up 77% of new power additions last year, according to the report, and the U.S. now generates approximately 16% of its electricity from solar and wind.

  • “Utility-scale solar installations soared to nearly 20 GW last year, up 49% or 6.4 GW from 2022. Energy storage capacity nearly doubled to about 8 GW installed, mostly focused in California and Texas.”
  • Combined with hydropower, solar and wind supplied 21.6% of last year’s total generation. Natural gas provided most of the mix, supplying some 43.1% of total electricity generated in 2023.

Why it’s happening: Declining panel and module costs and a global oversupply are likely behind the surge.

What’s needed: While there are at least 22 high-voltage transmission projects in the works in the U.S., “building the connections for new renewable power sources remain[s] a significant bottleneck,” according to the ACP.

  • “Plain and simple, we are simply not building enough new transmission to meet the energy needs of this country and match the energy transition that is underway,” said ACP Vice President of Markets and Policy Analysis John Hensley.

The NAM’s take: “The United States has truly made progress in boosting renewable energy usage,” said NAM Director of Domestic Policy Michael Davin. “However, without significant change to the process required to get energy projects greenlit, the renewable market will never see its full potential. We must reform our permitting system—now.”

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