According to a review by the SUN DAY Campaign of data just released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), solar’s share of the nation’s electrical generation set a new monthly record in May as well as for the first five months of the year.
The latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” report (with data through May 31, 2023) reveals that in the first five months of this year, electrical generation by solar (including small-scale distributed systems) grew by 11.8%, compared to the same period in 2022. This was driven in large part by growth in “estimated” small-scale (e.g., rooftop) solar PV whose output increased by 25.6% and accounted for nearly a third (31.9%) of total solar production. For the five-month period, solar was 5.5% of total U.S. electrical generation.
In just the month of May, solar electrical output was 16.3% higher than a year earlier, propelled by a 27.6% increase in small-scale solar – substantially faster than any other energy source. As a result, solar hit an all-time monthly high of 7.3% of the nation’s total electrical generation, approaching that of hydropower (8.3%). This growth trend had been building since the beginning of 2023when solar was 3.5% of total generation in January, followed by 4.4% in February, 5.5% in March, and 7.1% in April.
For May alone, solar combined with wind accounted for 16.9% of the nation’s electrical generation. For the first five months of 2023, solar and wind together were 17.7% of total U.S. electrical generation – up from 17.0% for the same period a year earlier. For the five-month period, solar plus wind easily surpassed coal’s share (14.6%) as electrical generation by the latter plummeted by 28.7%.
The full complement of renewable energy sources (i.e., including biomass, geothermal, and hydropower) accounted for over a quarter (26.0%) of the nation’s electrical generation – up from 25.6% a year earlier notwithstanding declines in wood + biomass (down 7.6% ), hydropower (down 7.1%), and geothermal (down 1.8%).
Further, electrical generation by the mix of renewables exceeded that provided by nuclear power – whose output fell by 0.6% – by more than a third (36.6%).
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Notes and Sources:
Unless otherwise indicated, the electricity figures cited above include EIA’s “estimated small-scale solar photovoltaic” (e.g., rooftop solar systems) which accounted for 31.9% of total solar output and 6.84% of total net electrical generation by renewable energy sources during the first five months of 2023.
EIA’s latest “Electric Power Monthly” report was released on July 25, 2023. For the data cited in this news release, see Table ES1.A “Total Electric Power Industry Summary Statistics 2023 and 2022” and Table ES1.B. “Total Electric Power Industry Summary Statistics, Year-to-Date 2023 and 2022”at:
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The SUN DAY Campaign is a non-profit research and educational organization founded in 1992 to support a rapid transition to 100% reliance on sustainable energy technologies as a cost-effective alternative to nuclear power and fossil fuels and as a solution to climate change. Follow on Twitter: @SunDayCampaign