Solar generation to surpass hydropower in the US in 2024

Solar energy is predicted to overtake hydropower for the first time in the US, with the government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicting that solar will generate 14% more electricity than hydro in 2024.

Solar generated more electricity than hydropower for the first time on a monthly basis in September, 2022. During the Northern Hemisphere’s 2023 Summer, solar again outpaced hydropower “due to exponential growth in installed solar capacity,” according to the EIA.

Solar capacity has increased at an average rate of 44% per year between 2009 to 2022, while installed hydroelectric capacity has managed only less than 1% each year, with total capacity remaining steady at around 80GW for the past few decades.

Following a record third quarter for US clean energy installations, which saw over 3GW of solar installed, the EIA now expects that annual solar generation in 2024 will finally surpass that of hydropower generation.

Hydropower was overtaken in 2019 by annual wind generation, but solar has taken longer to reach the same heights.

By August of 2023, according to the EIA, installed US solar capacity had reached over 125GW, including 80GW of utility-scale solar and an estimated 45GW of small-scale solar capacity.

In addition to the fight between capacity numbers, recent weather patterns have reduced US hydroelectric generation, depending as it does on seasonal hydrologic conditions and long-term weather trends.


Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.

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