Renewables Beat Coal and Nuclear in the US Electric Power Sector 2022

By Pranav Mahapatra

March 27, 2023
Windmills And Green Grass Field united states

Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its annual report on the US power sector, which states substantial development in renewable sources of energy has surpassed coal-fired generation in the US electric power sector for the first time.

According to EIA’s report, the US electric power sector produced 4,090 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electric power last year.

In 2022, generation from renewable sources, including wind, solar, hydro, biomass, and geothermal, surpassed coal-fired generation for the first time.

Renewable generation exceeded nuclear generation for the first time in 2021 and continued to provide more electricity than nuclear generation last year[1].

However, natural gas remained the largest source of electricity generation, increasing from a 37% share in 2021 to 39% in 2022.

The report also shows that the share of coal-fired generation decreased from 23% in 2021 to 20% in 2022, due to the retirement of several coal-fired power plants and the decreased use of the remaining ones.

The share of nuclear generation decreased from 20% in 2021 to 19% in 2022, following the retirement of the Palisades nuclear power plant in May 2022.

The combined wind and solar share of total generation increased from 12% in 2021 to 14% in 2022.

U.S. Energy Generation statistics 2010-2022. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electricity Data Browser

Hydropower generation remained unchanged at 6% in 2022, while the shares for biomass and geothermal sources remained less than 1%.


The growth in wind and solar generating capacity was the main driver of the increase in renewable energy generation.

Utility-scale solar capacity in the US electric power sector increased from 61 gigawatts (GW) in 2021 to 71 GW in 2022, and wind capacity grew from 133 GW in 2021 to 141 GW in 2022.

Texas led the country in wind-generated power production, accounting for 26% of total US wind generation last year; Iowa followed with 10% and Oklahoma with 9%.

In 2022, one of the largest wind farms in the US, with nearly 1,000 MW capacity, came online in Oklahoma.

In a utility-scale solar generation, California ranked first, producing 26% of the country’s utility-scale solar electricity. Texas followed with 16%, and North Carolina with 8%.

Texas is also home to several of the largest solar plants built in the US in the last three years, including the 275 MW Noble solar plant that started operations in 2022.

The EIA’s March Short-Term Energy Outlook forecast predicts that the wind share of the US generation mix will increase from 11% in 2022 to 12% in 2023.

The solar share is expected to grow to 5% in 2023, up from 4% in 2022, the natural gas share of generation is expected to remain unchanged from last year, while the coal share of generation is predicted to decline from 20% in 2022 to 17% in 2023.

The electric power sector comprises electric utilities and independent power producers and 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.

The shift towards renewable energy sources is a significant step towards mitigating climate change, as these sources produce little to no greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

With renewable energy surpassing coal-fired and nuclear generation in the U.S. electric power sector, there is a reduced reliance on fossil fuels and a reduced carbon footprint.

The increase in wind and solar capacity and generation is particularly promising, as they are among the cleanest and most sustainable sources of energy available.

As more wind and solar farms are built, there is potential to further reduce the carbon footprint of the electric power sector.

Later as the renewable energy industry continues to grow, there are opportunities for job creation and economic growth in related sectors such as manufacturing and construction.

This could result in a more sustainable and prosperous future for the United States and the world at large.



  1. Syne Salem, ‘Renewable generation surpassed nuclear in the U.S. electric power sector in 2021‘, U.S. Energy Information Administration, 27 March 2023,[]