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Solar, Wind, Coal, Nuclear, & Nat Gas US Electricity Generation Changes 2010–2020

How has US electricity generation from solar power, wind power, coal power, natural gas, and nuclear shifted in the past 11 years? Let me show you.

With official US electricity generation in for last year, I have now created new charts for how US electricity generation has shifted by source from 2010 through 2020. The charts just cover the main sources (solar, wind, coal, natural gas, and nuclear).

Based on reader feedback, I’ve created two charts for each source this time around. There are charts showing how those sources’ market share shifted over time, and there are charts representation total generation itself. Naturally, the charts are similar at the core, but I put a max limit on the generation charts so that they are more comparable across brands.

The charts are all interactive charts, but if those don’t display well for you (on a phone, for example), you can scroll down to the bottom of the page for static versions.

That chart looks great. Though, it’s important to recognize that it just rises from 0% in 2010 to 3.3% in 2020 — so the ending market share is still quite small, despite the clear growth year after year.

That shows you more practically how much solar power has grown in the USA. And it’s not as uplifting.

Wind had a similarly nice looking growth chart, but starting from a higher base point than 0% (slightly higher, at 2.3%). By 2020, that got up to 8.3%. It’s true, 80.3% would mean a lot more pollution and CO2 emissions prevention. But at least clean wind is approaching double digits in terms of US market share.

Again, though, the impact looks much more negligible than when looking at wind power’s market share shifts.

All renewable energy sources combined shows somewhat more noticeable growth on this chart, and if you look closely, you can see generation nearly doubled from 2010 to 2020 (technically, it was a 1.95× increase). Though, the growth trend looks better in the featured image focused on market share. Here’s the interactive version of that one, showing growth from 10.4% market share in 2010 to 20.6% in 2020:

Those two charts almost look identical, as the max generation output for all of the generation charts stemmed from this coal chart. The first chart depicts a drop from 44.7% market share in 2010 to 19.1% market share in 2020.

Showing the dramatic fall in coal power production in another way, you can watch coal electricity generation slide from 1,847,290 GWh in 2010 to 773,805 GWh in 2020.

Coal should continue to decline in both capacity and generation in the years to come.

A large increase in electricity from natural gas is the unfortunate power generation side effect of rapid coal destruction without adequate renewable energy capacity to replace it all. Nat gas rose from 23.9% market share in 2010 to 39.9% market share in 2020, a jump of 16 full percentage points.

In fact, 629,051 more GWh of electricity were produced from natural gas in 2020 than in 2010, which is more than all of 2020 solar and wind electricity combined (470,141 GWh).

Nuclear has been approximately as stable as a rock, with the exception of some notable generation drops in 2018 and 2019.

Here are static versions of the charts above:

Related CleanTechnica reports:

Renewables = 20.6% Of US Electricity In 2020

77–80% of New US Power Capacity Came from Solar & Wind in 2020

Solar & Wind Power Growth In UK From 2012–2020 (Charts)

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Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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