Chart of the Day: Solar overtakes coal in biggest coal state in US

Another landmark for renewables has been reached in the US, where the output of solar over a whole month has beaten that of coal in Texas – the state that burns more coal for electricity than any other in the country.

According to Ieefa, solar generation was 3.26 million megawatt hours (MWh), or 3.26 terawatt hours (TWh) in the month of March, beating the 2.96 TWh sent out by coal fired generators.

It’s the first time solar has beaten coal over a whole month in Texas, and that’s significant because Texas has long been the largest user of coal for power generation of any state in the US.

In 2023, according to Ieefa, the state burned 50.7 million tons of coal for electricity — twice as much as second-place Missouri’s 24.1 million tons — and 13% of the U. total.

But the share of coal generation in Texas is declining rapidly, from 40 per cent more than a decade ago and 30 per cent in 2017 to 13.9 per cent in 2023. The March result pushes it below 10 per cent for a month for the first time.

Solar, on the other hand, has broken above the 10 per cent mark for the first time (it was at 0.6 per cent in 2017), and the March number is 50 per cent more than the same month a year ago, and comes as total solar capacity in Texas reaches 22.7 gigawatts, with another 7.2 GW to be added this year and more than 20 GW more in development.

Just two days ago, solar achieved record instantaneous output of 18.6 GW, according to GridStatus, and was followed a day later by record output of wind and solar (37.6 GW) and a record level of penetration (74 per cent of load).

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