How Much Can Renewables Bite Out of the Coal Pie?
20 Years Down the Road — Will There Be a Marked Change?
While sifting through data in the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook 2012, I came across some tidbits that I thought would be interesting to share with readers and graphed it to bring out the points.
What we’re looking at here are the sources — and percentage of those sources — of the generating mix of electricity in the United States, as projected for the years 2012 and 2035.
In 2012, coal is projected to provide three and a half times the amount of electricity as renewables will. By 2035 that will be reduced to less than two and a half.
So while natural gas adds 1% to its share by subtracting it from nuclear, renewables manage to capture 4% from coal. While that may sound like a positive development at first, in reality, coal is still projected — by a wide margin — to be the dominant source of U.S. electricity generation, more than two decades into the future.
957 Billion Additional kWh of Electricity Needed
When breaking down the categories separately, growth in renewables (33%) comes in second to natural gas (39%), so growth is expected to be substantial. That said, despite its projected growth, the fact that in more than 20 years from now it is still projected to lag so far behind coal and natural gas, goes to show the uphill climb renewables have in making a significant dent on mature sources operating on such a large scale.