The United States is on track to generate more electricity from sunlight next year than from hydropower for the first time ever, as growing installations of solar panels, especially residential systems, transform the energy system.
Solar power is expected to generate more than 318 billion kilowatt-hours of U.S. 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 has been crossed on an annual basis.
The crossover will likely be permanent. Annual hydropower capacity increased by less than 1% from 2009 to 2022, while solar capacity increased by an average of 44% per year.