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Renewables Will Generate 44% Of U.S. Electricity In 2050

Renewable power generation is set to more than double its share in America’s electricity to 44 percent in 2050 from 21 percent now, as wind and solar installations are expected to surge, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Friday.

Power generation from fossil fuels, on the other hand, is expected to decline from 60 percent in 2021 to 44 percent in 2050, according to EIA’s estimates in the Reference case of its Annual Energy Outlook 2022 (AEO2022), which assumes current laws and regulations.

The key drivers of the decline in fossil fuel power generation will be slower growth of natural gas-fired generation and the continued retirement of coal-fired power generators. By 2050, natural gas-fired generation is set to increase in absolute terms, but the share of natural gas in the U.S. power generation mix will fall from 37 percent in 2021 to 34 percent in 2050, the EIA says. The share of coal in power generation is forecast to slump to 10 percent in 2050 from 23 percent in 2021.

So, it will be solar and wind that will drive the growth of renewable power generation over the next three decades, as hydropower is not expected to change much through 2050, while geothermal and biomass would collectively remain less than 3 percent of total U.S. electricity generation.

Renewables are already accounting for most of the new power capacity coming online in the United States. This year, the U.S. is set to add 46.1 gigawatts (GW) of new utility-scale electric generating capacity to the power grid, the EIA said in January. Almost half—or 46 percent—of the planned 2022 capacity additions will be solar power, followed by natural gas at 21 percent and wind at 17 percent. Just over half—or 51 percent—of the 2022 wind capacity additions are expected to be located in Texas, the EIA said.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Jason Andrews on March 20 2022 said:
    The more we build renewables the more we need fossil fuel generation to back it up.
  • Lee James on March 18 2022 said:
    Articles today tend to focus on clean energy to displace dependency on fossil fuel. As I think we are all seeing, it will take awhile for renewable energy to do the job, by itself.

    I think it important to acknowledge the role of energy pricing in where we are headed. I see the cost of all energy sources going up -- going up appreciably. With a reduction of fossil fuel subsidies and acceptance of real-world energy pricing, we will find downward pressure on energy demand.

    Demand destruction, while sounding terrible for us as individuals and our economy, can help make possible wiser use of energy. We will tend to make fewer unnecessary trips. We will purchase more efficient vehicles, buildings and appliances. Importantly, we may even purchase less energy from autocratic petrostates.

    I am not saying this will be easy. But let us each do our part and make the best of what will be a very trying situation. Many little things of the right sort can add up to make a difference.

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