EIA sees increases in wind, solar generation worldwide through 2050

Published on October 18, 2021 by Dave Kovaleski

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An October report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that renewable resources of energy, particularly solar and wind, will be the largest contributor to the growth in electricity generation through 2050 worldwide.

However, EIA’s report, International Energy Outlook 2021, does indicate that in certain regions, coal will still be the primary resource for electricity generation.

The report stated that because coal-fired energy is about 30 percent less efficient than natural gas-fired combined-cycle units, natural gas-fired generation is often a lower-cost option, even if the fuel price of natural gas is slightly higher than the fuel price of coal. However, EIA projects that coal prices will remain low relative to natural gas prices after 2030 and provide a cost-competitive option to natural gas-fired generation.

Increases in coal-fired generation in non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Asian countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand will account for over 75 percent of EIA’s projected increase in global coal-fired generation from 2030 to 2050. Further, renewable energy sources will account for about 60 percent of the generation increase over the projection period, primarily from wind and solar in these countries.

“In 2030, we project that coal-fired generation will start displacing some natural gas-fired generation in other non-OECD Asia because of abundant coal resources that can be competitively mined, natural gas prices that are projected to increase after 2030, and a lack of carbon policies or regulations in the region,” the EIA report states.

Coal-fired generation’s share of the region’s generation mix is projected to increase from 33 percent in 2020 to almost 50 percent in 2050.