Report: Renewables Will be No. 1 in Global Power Generation in 24 years


By 2040, renewables will overtake coal to become the leading source of power generation worldwide, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Meanwhile, coal will continue to be the dominant source of electricity for another 24 years, the report found.

Although the amount of power produced with coal is expected to rise 25 percent through 2040, the growth rate for renewable power is substantially higher at 3 percent a year, on average. By 2040, renewable resources will account for 29 percent of the world’s power generation, according to EIA’s report, International Energy Outlook 2016.

But the outlook for coal could be worse because the report does not reflect the potential implementation of stricter emission rules, including the U.S. Clean Power Plan, which would force more coal-fired plants into retirement. Although coal-fired generation is expected to rise 25 percent worldwide by 2040, coal’s share of the generation pie is projected to fall to 29 percent during the same period. Natural gas will account for 28 percent of the world’s generation by 2040, up from 22 percent in 2012, the report found.

“After renewable energy sources, natural gas and nuclear power are the next fastest-growing sources of electricity generation,” the report stated. Gas-fired power generation is projected to rise 2.7 percent a year and nuclear power production is expected to increase 2.4 percent a year through 2040.

Altogether, global power production is expected to increase 69 percent by 2040, the report showed.

“The 69% increase in world electricity generation through 2040 is far below what it would be if economic growth and electricity demand growth maintained the same relationship they had in the recent past,” the report found.   

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