A federal report predicts the amount of renewable energy on the electricity grid will more than double by 2040 to close to 500 gigawatts of capacity.
That presumes the Obama administration’s clean power plan, which would reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by 30 percent, survives a legal challenge.
But even without the clean power plan, cost reductions in solar and wind energy, along with the extension of a tax credit for renewable energy last year, should still grow to more than 400 gigawatts over the next 24 years.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration is predicting continued growth in wind power until 2022, when the tax credit expires and construction comes to a virtual halt.
“Because the most favorable wind resources are located in a few regions in the country, increased adoption of wind technology in these regions may be limited by the ability of regional grids to handle high levels of intermittent generation,” the report reads.
But the agency also forecasts continued growth in solar farms and rooftop systems through 2040.
Still, 500 gigawatts would be a long way from the carbon-free power sector many environmentalists want to see in the decades ahead.
Right now the U.S. power grid counts a capacity of 1,066 gigawatts, of which 440 gigawatts is natural gas and coal is 280 gigawatts.