Renewables in 2020 Will be Fastest-Growing Source of Electricity in the US: EIA

The EIA has revealed that it expects renewables to be the fastest-growing source of electricity generation in the US in 2020.

Renewables Fastest in US

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The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has revealed in its Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO) that it expects renewables to be the fastest-growing source of electricity generation in the US in 2020. It has forecasted that the electric power sector will add 23.2 gigawatts (GW) of new wind capacity and 12.9 GW of utility-scale solar capacity in 2020.

It has also added that these future capacity additions are subject to a high degree of uncertainty, and that they will be continued to be monitored.

The STEO also details that the EIA forecasts 3.6 percent less electricity consumption in the United States in 2020 compared with 2019. The largest decline on a percentage basis is in the commercial sector, where it expects retail sales of electricity to fall by 7.4 percent this year. On the residential side, it believes that retail sales will increase by 2 percent in 2020. Once the impact of the pandemic is subdued, the outlook sees signs of recovery in the market, with the total US electricity consumption predicted to rise by 0.8 percent.

The outlook also highlights that electricity generation from renewable energy sources will rise from 17 percent in 2019 to 20 percent in 2020 and further increase to 22 percent in 2021. The increase in the share from renewables is the result of expected additions to the wind and solar generating capacity.

While renewables set the speed in the electricity segment, a decline in nuclear generation in both 2020 and 2021 is expected, reflecting recent and upcoming retirements of nuclear-generating capacity. Furthermore, the US coal consumption, which dropped to its lowest point since April, totalled 95 MMst in the second quarter of 2020. EIA expects coal consumption to rise to a seasonal peak of 127 MMst in the third quarter but remain lower than 2019 levels through the end of 2020. EIA estimates that US coal consumption will decrease by 26 percent in 2020 but then sharply recover to increase by 20 percent in 2021.

Finally, the outlook reveals that the US energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, after decreasing by 2.8 percent in 2019, will decrease by 11.5 percent (588 million metric tons) in 2020. This record decline is the result of less energy consumption related to restrictions on business and travel activity and slowing economic growth related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. In 2021, it forecasts that energy-related CO2 emissions will increase by 5.6 percent, as the economy recovers and stay-at-home orders are lifted.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for