EIA forecasts renewables will be fastest growing source of electricity generation
January 18 (Renewables Now) – The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects non-hydroelectric renewable energy resources such as solar and wind to be the fastest growing source of US electricity generation for at least the next two years.
EIA’s January 2019 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) forecasts that electricity generation from utility-scale solar generating units will grow by 10% in 2019 and by 17% in 2020. According to the January STEO, wind generation will grow by 12% and 14% during the next two years. EIA forecasts total US electricity generation across all fuels will fall by 2% this year and then show very little growth in 2020.
EIA projects that the share of total US electricity generation produced by all renewables other than hydropower will increase by 3 percentage points during the next two years, from 10% of total generation in 2018 to 13% in 2020.
This projected growth is a result of new generating capacity the industry expects to bring online. About 11 GW of wind capacity is scheduled to come online in 2019, which would be the largest amount of new wind capacity installed in the US since 2012. EIA expects electricity generated from wind this year to surpass hydropower generation. An additional 8 GW of wind capacity is scheduled to come online in 2020. The share of total US generation from wind is projected to increase from 7% in 2018 to 9% in 2020.
Solar is the third-largest renewable energy source in the US power sector, having surpassed biomass in 2017. The electric power sector plans to add more than 4 GW of new solar capacity in 2019 and almost 6 GW in 2020, a total increase of 32% from the operational capacity at the end of 2018. Because of this increase, solar is forecast to contribute slightly more than 2% of total utility-scale generation in 2020.
In addition to utility-scale solar in the electric power sector, some residences and businesses have installed small-scale solar photovoltaic systems to supply some of the electricity they consume. EIA forecasts that small-scale solar generating capacity will grow by almost 9 GW during the next two years, an increase of 44%.