The combined electricity generation from wind and solar is expected to surpass coal-fired generation for the first time on record, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its latest report.
According to a recent Short-Term Energy Outlook, wind and solar generation will exceed coal by nearly 90 billion kilowatt-hours in 2024. “Renewables, particularly solar photovoltaics, are growing rapidly and making large contributions to electricity generation,” said EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis.
The report predicts that solar generation will increase 39% in 2024 compared to this year. New solar generating capacity will get a boost from 9 gigawatts of new battery storage capacity in 2023 — double the amount from 2022.
Large gains in solar will likely slow growth in electricity generation from natural gas-fired plants. After natural gas generation grew 7% from 2022 to 2023, analysts expect it to grow just 1% in 2024.
The forecast for Henry Hub natural gas spot prices this winter averages close to $2.80 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), down more than 60 cents from EIA’s previous forecast.
“The downward revision reflects both a warmer-than-average start to the winter, which has reduced demand for space heating in the residential and commercial sectors, and high natural gas production,” the report said.
EIA expects residential customers to pay, on average, 15.8 cents per kWh for electricity next year, about the same as in 2023. Forecasts for retail electricity prices in the commercial and industrial sectors in 2024 also remain relatively flat at 12.6 cents per kWh and 8.1 cents per kWh, respectively, the report said.