Energy Environment

By 2030, renewable energy could generate 33-50 percent of US electricity, but it’s unlikely to meet Biden’s objective of 80 percent

According to estimates from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy will deliver around one-third of United States electricity to the grid by the year 2030 if current trends continue. However, this might climb to half of the generation if deployment improves. Even this, though, would fall short of United States President Joe Biden’s aim of 80 percent renewable energy usage by 2030, which is becoming unattainable unless deployment significantly accelerates shortly, maintaining peak growth levels seen in the previous six years, according to EIA data.

According to the EIA’s Electric Power Monthly report, renewable energy provided 22.5 percent of United States electricity during the first four months of 2021. Renewables added roughly 1% to their proportion of United States energy supply every year in 2011 when the figure reached 13.75 percent. Almost all of this rise may be attributed to wind and solar, which increased from 3.3 percent in April 2011 to about 13.9 percent in April 2021, with the other renewables remaining relatively stable at 9-10 percent across the decade.

Renewables will account for roughly one-third of the United States electricity output in 2030 if current trends continue. According to FERC data, Renewables would provide nearly 38 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030, provided the predicted growth rate is maintained over the next decade. According to EIA data, yearly solid growth rates for solar and wind over the last six years indicate that renewables might account for 50% of energy output by 2030. While wind has increased at a rate of roughly 10% every year since the year 2014, solar has grown at a rate of 30% per year on average. However, there are hints that it is slowing, with annual growth of only 21% in the last three years. Wind power might double its generation from the year 2020 to 2030 if ongoing growth continues, while solar power could increase by 600% within the same time frame.

In this case, solar and wind would each generate roughly 20% of US electricity, with other renewables contributing 10% to bring the total to 50%. Furthermore, FERC stated that adding 42.8GW of the utility-scale solar to an existing 57.9GW of capacity – a 74 percent increase – is a “high probability.” Another “high probability” is that wind will add another 20.5GW to its present capacity of 125.7GW. Both increase the chances of attaining 50%.

President Biden’s aim of 80% growth can only be achieved if a far faster development path is followed. Wind power has increased by 12 percent in 3 of the last 6 years, while solar, as earlier indicated, has experienced yearly growth rates of 30%. However, this has slowed in recent years. If the United States can maintain these high growth rates until 2030, which would need massive amounts of constant private and public investment over the next decade, an 80 percent growth rate is achievable. Around 25% of the energy would come from wind, while nearly half would come from solar. Another 10 percent from other renewables (biomass, hydropower, geothermal, etc.) would bring the total to Biden’s aim of 80%. This would necessitate a large increase in the workforce.