The renewables safe sources of energy that never run out are coming! And if it was braggin’ time for wind when wind power hit 1.25% of U.S. electricity generation in 2008, what’ll it be in 2012, when it hits 5%, as projected by the Energy Information Administration? Well, it’s probably time for a tougher renewable energy standard than the Senate is considering.
Significantly, the EIA, which is the DOE’s independent analytical arm, is no fan of safe sources of energy that never run out. When I was at the DOE in the mid-1990s, we uncovered a key reason there was so little wind in EIA’s modeling of federal climate action: Their original forecast had in fact shown a huge upsurge, so the EIA analysts tweaked the model to artificially suppress wind. And today, the EIA is run by my old friend, Howard Gruenspecht, who was a Bush Sr. holdover at DOE’s office of policy when I started there in 1992 and a Bush, Jr. appointee at EIA. He ain’t progressive. Obama should replace him. But I digress.
So it is all the more shocking that EIA’s remarkable, if little noted, report from last month, Updated Annual Energy Outlook 2009 Reference Case Reflecting Provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Recent Changes in the Economic Outlook projected this response to the Obama stimulus package:
Note that non-hydro renewables are about 9% of supply in 2020. You can find all the year-by-year projections here (see Table 15, “Renewable Energy Generating Capacity and Generation”).
Now you can pretty much ignore the post-2012 projections by EIA since they have self-inflicted myopia — EIA’s basic forecasts assume “no further energy and climate policy” and “no peak oil.” For instance, their analysis notes “wind capacity growth is projected to slow significantly after the expiration of the Federal tax credits in 2012.”
Slow significantly? That’s an understatement. EIA projects U.S. wind capacity rising from about 25 GW in 2008 to 66 GW in 2014 — but then to only 68 GW in 2030!
Anybody want to bet me that wind capacity will grow 2 GW from 2015 to 2030? Didn’t think so. Seriously EIA — how do you expect anyone to take you seriously?
And EIA projects solar thermal power in 2014 will be … wait for it … 790 MW, and in 2030 … wait even longer and longer for it … 860 MW. Like I said, EIA does not like renewables — even those with power purchase agreements (see “World’s largest solar plant with thermal storage to be built in Arizona “” total of 8500 MW of this core climate solution planned for 2014 in U.S. alone“).
Needless to say, they assume no climate bill and thus no price for carbon dioxide.
And here is their oil price forecast: