By the end of 2020, about one-fifth of the nation’s electric generation will come from renewable sources, including hydropower, according to federal energy officials.
That’s up from 17% in 2017, according to this month’s Short-Term Energy Outlook released by the Energy Information Administration. In addition, EIA forecasts that the share of total generation for non-hydro renewables will rise to 11% in 2019 and 13% in 2020 “with wind providing more generation than hydropower in 2019 and 2020 for the first time on record.”
EIA expects the nation’s wind-generating capacity to increase from almost 108 GW at the end of 2019 to almost 118 GW by the end of 2020. That’s up from 94 gigawatts at the end of 2018. “Because wind capacity often comes online at the end of the calendar year, increases in generation generally occur in the following year,” the report said.
Domestic solar markets are also growing. Based on the most recent data reported to EIA, almost 6 GW of utility-scale solar photovoltaic capacity will go online in 2019 and about 9 GW in 2020. Most of that capacity is planned in the South, particularly Florida, the Carolinas and Texas. EIA also expects nearly 10 GW of small-scale solar capacity to be installed during 2019 and 2020, mostly in the residential sector.
Tariffs and tax credits will affect future production of solar and wind, the report said.
Encouraged by the continued low cost and improved technology, the electric industry is adding more natural gas plants. In 2018, the industry added more than 17 GW of natural gas combined-cycle capacity, which was the largest addition since 2004. Almost 14 GW of new combined-cycle capacity is scheduled to come online this year and in 2020.
“Many of these new natural gas power plants use advanced designs that permit greater capacity than coal-fired power plants,” the report said.
EIA predicts coal consumption, which reached a 39-year low of 687 million short tons (MMst) last year, will fall to 602 MMst in 2019 and 567 MMst in 2020. “The falling consumption reflects lower demand for coal in the electric power sector,” the report said.