Why Renewables Are Set to Become the Fastest-Growing Source of Energy
Renewable energy from sources other than hydroelectricity is set to be the United States’ fastest-growing source of energy over the next two years and possibly longer, the Energy Information Administration revealed on Friday. A new report claims that sources like wind and solar will provide 13 percent of the country’s total energy generation by 2020, up three percent from 2018.
The figures paint a promising picture for the future of renewables. The administration explains that the boost in generation will come from a large increase of new energy sources set to come online next year, including 11 gigawatts of wind power that ranks as the largest amount in a single year since 2012. A previous report showed that 46 percent of the 24 gigawatts set to come online next year will come from wind, plus a further 18 percent from photovoltaic solar panels, which currently rank as the third-largest renewable energy source. Around eight gigawatts is set for retirement, 53 percent of which will be coal and a further 27 percent natural gas.
While it’s a big jump, coal and natural gas still reign supreme. The two combined made up 63 percent of total energy generated in 2018, a figure that’s only set to drop two percent by 2020. The industry has shifted from coal to natural gas, a switchover that occurred in 2016, and its low price of $3.25 per million British thermal units and high efficiency has given it a firm stronghold in the marketplace.
Beyond 2020, analysts believe that renewables are set to make significant inroads due to their affordability. A report from Swiss investment bank UBS claimed in August 2018 that by 2030, renewable energy could “effectively be free.” A May 2018 report from Lazard suggests solar has already made big progress, dropping in price 86 percent since 2009. Google already reached its goal of 100 percent green energy in December 2017, with Apple reaching the same goal four months later.
The market could make some big moves in the coming year. Roberto Rodriguez Labastida, senior research analyst for Navigant, told Inverse last month that Tesla, Sunrun and Vivint Solar have all achieved profitability and now have “freedom to choose their future strategy.”
With a warmer renewables market on the horizon, it’s perhaps little wonder that it’s expected to provide energy to more American homes in the coming year.