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Watch the U.S. Electricity Grid Evolve Before Your Eyes

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In a previous post, we looked at the evolution of America’s energy supply, showing how the country’s energy mix has changed from 1776 until today. There were many changes in technology and society over this extended time period, and the changes are quite eye-opening. Wood dominated until steam engine technology developed, and coal took over. Then electricity was discovered, and that gave rise to generating power in all kinds of ways: nuclear, hydro, gas, wind, solar, and more.

While the magnitude of such changes is obvious over centuries, there is even a surprising number of developments just in recent decades.

The below animated .gif, which starts with data from 1990, displays the evolution of how electricity is generated in every U.S. state up until 2014.

In this stretch of just 24 years, the way we generate electricity has evolved dramatically:

Watch the U.S. Electricity Grid Evolve Before Your Eyes
Even in 2006, the country got about 50% of its electricity from coal. As we noted in our post that visualized every power plant in the United States, the share that coal now has is closer to 34%.

Why is coal declining? The surge in the use of natural gas and renewables.

Natural gas power now generates 30% of the U.S. electricity, and renewable sources such as solar and wind have grown significantly in the last decade.

In 2005, there were zero states that generated more than 10% of their electricity from renewables. Today, that number is up to 11 states.

Original graphics by: Synapse Energy, RenewEconomy

 

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Who’s Building the Most Solar Energy?

China’s solar capacity triples USA, nearly doubles EU.

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Chart showing installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in China, the EU, and the U.S. between 2010 and 2022, measured in gigawatts (GW).

Who’s Building the Most Solar Energy?

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

In 2023, solar energy accounted for three-quarters of renewable capacity additions worldwide. Most of this growth occurred in Asia, the EU, and the U.S., continuing a trend observed over the past decade.

In this graphic, we illustrate the rise in installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in China, the EU, and the U.S. between 2010 and 2022, measured in gigawatts (GW). Bruegel compiled the data..

Chinese Dominance

As of 2022, China’s total installed capacity stands at 393 GW, nearly double that of the EU’s 205 GW and surpassing the USA’s total of 113 GW by more than threefold in absolute terms.

Installed solar
capacity (GW)
ChinaEU27U.S.
2022393.0205.5113.0
2021307.0162.795.4
2020254.0136.976.4
2019205.0120.161.6
2018175.3104.052.0
2017130.896.243.8
201677.891.535.4
201543.687.724.2
201428.483.618.1
201317.879.713.3
20126.771.18.6
20113.153.35.6
20101.030.63.4

Since 2017, China has shown a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 25% in installed PV capacity, while the USA has seen a CAGR of 21%, and the EU of 16%.

Additionally, China dominates the production of solar power components, currently controlling around 80% of the world’s solar panel supply chain.

In 2022, China’s solar industry employed 2.76 million individuals, with manufacturing roles representing approximately 1.8 million and the remaining 918,000 jobs in construction, installation, and operations and maintenance.

The EU industry employed 648,000 individuals, while the U.S. reached 264,000 jobs.

According to the IEA, China accounts for almost 60% of new renewable capacity expected to become operational globally by 2028.

Despite the phasing out of national subsidies in 2020 and 2021, deployment of solar PV in China is accelerating. The country is expected to reach its national 2030 target for wind and solar PV installations in 2024, six years ahead of schedule.

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