EIA: Even Without Clean Power Plan, Gas and Renewables Will Grow

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By Editors of Power Engineering

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook indicates natural gas and renewable sources will remain the top sources of new generation capacity.

The primary driver of the switch is the retirement of older, less efficient fossil fuel plants, largely due to the Clean Power Plan and renewable tax credits.

However, the EAIA predicted natural gas and renewables will still be the top choices for new generation even if CPP isn’t implemented, due to low natural gas prices. The report noted the future generation mix remains sensitive to the price of natural gas and the growth in electricity demand.

Coal use could remain flat should natural gas become more expensive or less available. However, that scenario would also cause renewable growth to accelerate further and become the primary source of electric generation by the end of the 2020s.

Assumptions about license renewals indicate nuclear plans will continue to close, though at a relatively slow rate. Nuclear capacity is now at just under 100 GW, and is predicted to fall to just below 90 GW by 2040.

The EIA report indicated electricity growth should continue to rise through 2040, though the growth rate is expected to range between zero to one percent per year – far lower than the average growth rate from the 1980s to the late 2000s.

Rising demand from electric power generation is expected to contribute to an increase of overall natural gas consumption, as will rising demand from industrial sources, which are expected to remain the overall biggest consumer of natural gas.

Overall energy consumption is predicted to remain relatively flat through 2040, though the mix may change with a steady decline in coal and nuclear and a rise in natural gas and renewables.

Carbon emissions are expected to decline through 2040 in most predictions, though emissions may remain flat if CPP isn’t implemented.

The full report can be read here.

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