Electricity generation from solar resources in the U.S. in 2017 for the first time surpassed generation from biomass resources, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Wednesday.
Solar-generated electricity reached 77 million megawatt-hours (MWh) on an annual basis overtaking biomass resources, which generated 64 million MWh in 2017, the EIA said.
Among renewable sources, only hydro and wind generated more electricity in 2017, at 300 million MWh and 254 million MWh, respectively, the EIA said, adding biomass generating capacity had remained relatively unchanged in recent years, while solar generating capacity had consistently grown.
Biomass electricity generation from wood solids corresponded to 68 percent of total biomass electricity generation in 2017, followed by landfill gas at 17 percent, municipal solid waste at 11 percent, and other biogenic and non-biogenic materials made up the remaining 4 percent.
Generation from solar thermal sources, which convert sunlight to steam to produce power, has remained relatively flat in recent years, at about 3 million MWh, the agency noted.
Solar photovoltaic systems, however, have consistently grown in recent years, according to the IEA.
In 2014, large-scale solar PV systems, which use PV cells to directly produce electricity from sunlight, generated 15 million MWh, while small-scale PV systems - which are PV installations of 1 megawatt or smaller, generated 11 million MWh.
"By 2017, annual electricity from those sources had increased to 50 million MWh and 24 million MWh, respectively. By the end of 2018, EIA expects an additional 5,067 MW of large-scale PV to come online, according to EIA’s Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory," it said.
By Hale Turkes