According to a new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Finance (the IEEFA), the U.S. most likely hit its peak usage of natural gas to generate electricity in 2020. Growth in wind and solar power are beginning to erode the use of natural gas.
At the moment, natural gas prices are unusually high as a result of supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine. The U.S. is shipping record amounts of gas to Europe in order to help allies to wean off of Russian gas imports. As a result, U.S. natural gas prices are at their highest level in more than 13 years. Heating bills in the Northeast have been exceptionally high this past winter.
These high gas prices have also thrown a temporary lifeline to coal, which has seen a recent surge. Despite this, coal in the U.S. is continuing its long-term decline. Several of the largest power companies – including the Tennessee Valley Authority, Duke Energy, and Georgia Power – are planning to phase out coal entirely by 2035 and shift to renewable power.
The surging prices in fossil fuels – at the gas pump and in the home – along with multiple disruptions in energy security, are supercharging the already rapid pace of growth in solar, wind, and battery energy storage projects.
Wind, solar, and hydropower currently account for about 20% of U.S. power generation. According to the IEEFA, these renewable sources could provide more than a third of our power by 2027. Including both renewables and nuclear power plants, the U.S. could generate more than half of its electricity from carbon-free sources by that year, which represents a massive transition from just five years ago.
Photo, posted July 11, 2017, courtesy of John Ciccarelli / BLM via Flickr.