EIA Reports Wind, Solar and Storage are Dominating U.S. Capacity Additions

So far in 2023, wind, solar, and battery storage account for 82 percent of the new, utility-scale generating capacity developers plan to bring online in the United States, according to preliminary data from the Energy Information Administration.

As of January 2023, 73.5 gigawatts of utility-scale solar capacity was operating in the United States, about 6 percent of the country’s total capacity, according to the EIA’s Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory.

The EIA now projects that just over half of the new U.S. generating capacity in 2023 will be solar power. If all of the planned capacity comes online as expected, it would be the most U.S. solar capacity added in a single year and the first year that more than half of U.S. capacity additions are solar, the EIA said.

Utility-scale solar capacity started ramping up in the United States in 2010 as the cost of solar panels dropped substantially and state and federal policies introduced tax incentives, the EIA noted.

Similar to solar power, tax incentives, lower turbine construction costs, and new renewable energy targets helped fuel the growth of U.S. wind capacity. Wind capacity was “negligible” prior to 2000, but as of January 2023, 141.3 GW of wind capacity was operating in the United States, about 12 percent of total U.S. capacity, the EIA said, adding that in 2023 developers plan to add another 7.1 GW of wind capacity.

The majority of U.S. wind capacity is located in the windy central part of the country, which has wide swaths of open land that can accommodate large wind farms, the EIA said. The agency also noted that offshore wind farms offer significant potential for future wind capacity growth.

To offset the intermittency of wind and solar power resources, developers are increasingly pairing them with battery energy storage systems. In 2023, developers plan to add 8.6 GW of battery storage capacity, which would double total U.S. battery power capacity, the EIA said.

Although significant renewable capacity has been added in the past decade, differences in the amount of electricity that different types of power plants can produce mean that wind and solar made up about 17 percent of the country’s utility-scale capacity in 2021 but produced only 12 percent of the country’s electricity, the EIA said.