Skip to main content

Share of renewables in North American electricity mix expected to rise

Published by
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Based on results from EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2016 (AEO2016) Reference case and International Energy Outlook 2016, EIA projects that the North American share of energy generation from renewable and nuclear energy sources will grow from 38% in 2015 to 45% in 2025. This projection assumes the Clean Power Plan (CPP) is upheld and takes effect in the United States. A recent agreement among Canada, Mexico, and the United States established a goal of 50% of electricity generation from clean energy sources by 2025.

The trilateral agreement goal includes nuclear, renewables, and energy efficiency as eligible sources of clean energy, but it does not specify a baseline for assessing energy efficiency, which has been improving over time. The EIA projections discussed here focus solely on electricity generation from nuclear and renewable sources as a share of total generation. Substantial increases in demand-side energy efficiency are included in EIA's projection for overall electricity demand, but explicit accounting of energy efficiency contributions are not projected. Moreover, these values reflect the Reference case projections; other assumptions for fuel prices, technology costs, and policies could affect the electricity generation mix.

Electricity generation in the United States currently represents more than 80% of total generation in North America. EIA's AEO2016 Reference case assumes that implentation of the CPP will begin in 2022. The extension of certain tax credits, significant cost reductions, and recognition of future CPP requirements result in a large increase in renewable generation between 2015 and 2025. US coal-fired generation is expected to decline by 13% between 2015 and 2025 in the AEO Reference case, while natural gas-fired generation increases by 4%.

Canada's power generation was already met by 80% clean energy in 2015, mainly because of Canada's extensive hydroelectric capacity. Canada plans to further increase its hydroelectric capability by 2025, in addition to increasing wind and solar capacity by 2025. EIA's International Energy Outlook 2016 (IEO2016) projects reduced coal use in Canada between 2015 and 2025, consistent with Canadian government plans to gradually phase out the use of existing coal plants. However, the combined share of renewables and nuclear in Canada's total generation is expected to fall to 75% by 2025 because of increases in natural gas use and projected retirements of existing nuclear capacity. Overall, Canada's generation currently represents about 13% of the North American total generation.

Mexico accounted for about 6% of total North American electricity generation in 2015. The country has announced national energy goals and is undergoing electricity market reform to help encourage the development of new, low carbon capacity expansion. Mexico is projected to increase generation from hydroelectric, wind, and other renewables and to reduce generation from fossil fuels. By 2025, Mexico's combined nuclear and renewables share of total electricity generation is expected to be 29%.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

Read the article online at:


Embed article link: (copy the HTML code below):