In its Annual Energy Outlook 2022 Reference case, which reflects current laws and regulations, the US Energy Information Administration forecasts that the share of US power generation from renewables will increase from 21% in 2021 to 44% in 2050. This increase in renewable energy mainly consists of new wind and solar power. The contribution of hydropower remains largely unchanged through 2050, and other renewable sources of power generation, such as geothermal and biomass, collectively remain less than 3% of total generation.
EIA projects that the contribution of total solar generation, including both utility-scale solar farms and small-scale rooftop end-use systems, will exceed wind generation by the early 2030s. Early growth in wind and solar is driven by federal tax credits set to expire or significantly decline by 2026, but declining costs for both technologies play a significant role in both near- and long-term growth.
Meanwhile, the total share of US fossil fuel-fired power generation will decrease from 60% to 44% as a result of the continuing retirement of coal generators, and slow growth in natural gas-fired generation. Although the latter increases in absolute terms, the share of natural gas in the total generation mix will decrease slightly, from 37% in 2021 to 34% in 2050.
In our EIA’s projections, the natural gas share remains consistent despite several prospective retirements of coal and nuclear generating units, which cause the shares from those sources to drop by half. Generation from renewable sources increases to offset the declining coal and nuclear shares, largely because existing regulatory programs and market factors incentivise renewable sources.
Energy storage systems, such as stand-alone batteries or solar-battery hybrid systems, compete with natural gas-fired generators to provide electric power generation and back-up capacity for times when non-dispatchable renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, are unavailable. (Storage is not a generation source, therefore it is not included in the chart). Based on planned projects reported to EIA, energy storage capacity is expected to increase in the coming years.