The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) projects that electricity consumption will increase at an average annual rate of 0.8% from 2013 to 2040, nearly in line with expected population growth. Continuing a recent trend toward lower levels of carbon-intensive generation, natural gas and renewable generation meet almost all of the increase.
According to the EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2015 (AEO2015) report, electricity generation from renewable sources provided 13% of U.S. electricity in 2013. In the AEO2015 reference case, this percentage is projected to increase to 18% by 2040.
The reference case does not reflect pending polices that may significantly expand renewable energy's role in the generation mix, notably the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Clean Power Plan.
The AEO2015 says wind and solar generation account for nearly two-thirds of the growth in renewable generation. Solar is the fastest-growing renewable generation source, but wind accounts for the largest absolute increase in generation. According to the report, wind becomes the single largest source of renewable generation by 2040, supplanting hydropower as the largest renewable generation source.
The AEO2015 includes several cases with varying fuel prices and economic growth assumptions. Higher macroeconomic growth results in an increase in both natural gas and renewables generation, as higher electricity demand requires more generation from marginal sources, the report says.
For more information on the AEO2015, click here.