The US is on track to generate more electricity from sunshine next year than from hydropower for the first time ever as surging installations of solar panels, especially residential systems, transform the power system.
Solar will generate more than 318 billion kilowatt-hours of US power in 2024, compared with 284 billion kilowatt-hours from hydropower systems, according to government data. Solar surpassed hydro on a monthly basis in September 2022, but next year will be the first time the threshold is crossed on an annual basis.
The crossover is likely to be permanent. Annual hydropower capacity increased by less than 1% from 2009 to 2022, while solar capacity surged at an average of 44% a year.