Apr 8, 2024 - News

Colorado's solar and wind production blows away 2014 records

Energy generated by solar and wind, 2023
Data: Climate Central; Note: Includes both utility-scale and small-scale solar generation; Map: Axios Visuals

Colorado's renewable energy scene is gaining momentum, ranking seventh per capita among states with major wind and solar generation projects.

By the numbers: The state generated 5,300 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity from solar power and about 16,000 GWh from wind power in 2023 — which, together, could power nearly 2 million average homes in a year.

Why it matters: Solar and wind power are producing a comparatively small but growing share of Colorado's overall energy supply — and the state's rising reliance on renewables helps reduce the burning of fossil fuels, like coal and gas, to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Data: Climate Central; Note: Includes both utility-scale and small-scale solar generation; Map: Axios Visuals

Driving the news: Numerous solar and wind power projects are in the works in Colorado.

  • One of the largest in the country is being led by the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, which will break ground later this year on an 8-mile-long, 1-mile-wide solar farm with more than 2 million panels, estimated to cost more than $1 billion.
  • The Sun Bear Solar Farm near Towaoc in the state's southwestern corner is slated for completion and to start producing electricity in late 2026, per the project timeline.

What we're watching: Democratic lawmakers are finalizing a bill that would protect Colorado's plans to transition to carbon-free energy sources by cracking down on local governments' ability to restrict the development of wind and solar farms, CPR reports.

The big picture: Solar installations across the U.S. generated about eight times the gigawatt-hours of electricity in 2023 than in 2014, per Climate Central. Wind generation has doubled in the past decade.

  • The two energy sources generated enough electricity last year to power more than 61 million average American homes, Climate Central says.

What's next: Energy from wind and solar installations nationwide is expected to outpace coal-fired electricity this year for the first time, Axios Generate's Ben Geman reports.

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