In 2022, electricity generated from renewable sources surpassed coal energy in the U.S. for the first time. It also surpassed nuclear-generated power. Wind and solar drove the increase in renewable energy production at 14%, hydropower produced 6%, with biomass and geothermal sources producing a combined 1%. Coal power accounted for 20% in 2022.
How We Got Here
Thanks to changes in the economics of renewable energy production, the levelized cost of producing wind energy declined 70%, and the levelized cost of producing solar power declined by 90%.
The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) is a measurement used to assess and compare alternative methods of energy production. The LCOE of an energy-generating asset can be thought of as the average total cost of building and operating the asset per unit of total electricity generated (over an assumed lifetime).
Alternatively, the levelized cost of energy can be thought of as the average minimum price at which the electricity generated by the asset (such as solar or wind) is required to be sold in order to offset the total costs of production over its lifetime. Calculating the LCOE is related to the concept of assessing a project’s net present value.
According to Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, "Renewable energy is now the most affordable source of new electricity in much of the country."