Story at a glance
- The Annual Energy Outlook 2020 predicts a sharp increase in renewables over the decades, a continual decline in nuclear and coal, and a small drop in natural gas sources.
- The agency’s 2020 report is a shift from last year, which said natural gas would continue to be the top power source through 2050.
- The growth of renewable power is attributed to wind and solar.
Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are forecast to surpass nuclear, coal and natural gas sources as the leading source of power generation in the United States after 2045, according to the latest projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
In the agency’s Annual Energy Outlook 2020 released Wednesday, EIA predicts renewables will account for 38 percent of electricity after 2045, an increase from 19 percent currently, while natural gas will see a drop from 37 percent to 36 percent over the decades.
Meanwhile, power generated from coal is forecast to drop from 24 percent reported in 2019, to 13 percent in 2050, and nuclear’s share from its current 19 percent to just 12 percent in 2050.
“We see renewables as the fastest-growing source of electricity generation through 2050 as cost declines make them economically competitive beyond the expiration of existing federal and state policy supports,” EIA Administrator Lisa Capuano said in a statement.
The EIA report says the “relatively sharp growth in renewables seen during the past 10 years will continue through the projection period,” with renewables passing natural gas after 2045 in overall generation.
The majority of the growth in renewable power is attributed to wind and solar, which make up about half of renewable generation in the U.S. today. EIA predicts the two sources will account for nearly 80 percent of the renewable total in 2050.
A year ago, the EIA projected natural gas would continue to be the top power source through 2050 in the U.S., putting gas at 39 percent of the power mix, outpacing the 31 percent projections of renewables in the agency’s 2019 report.
“This shift has been strongly influenced by federal and state policies that help make renewables the fastest growing source of electricity,” Capuano told Bloomberg News.