Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wind power is poised to take off over the next 30 years and could become one of the nation’s dominant power sources, the Obama administration said Thursday.

The Energy Department projects that by 2050 wind power could provide 35 percent of U.S. electricity — a dramatic jump from today’s energy landscape, in which wind provides less than 5 percent of power generation.

With the administration admittedly aiming to lessen the role of fossil fuels, particularly coal, wind power increasingly is viewed as perhaps the most viable alternative.

“Since President Obama took office, the electricity we get from wind has increased by three fold. In fact, between 2009 and 2013, wind represented approximately 30% of new electricity generation in the United States,” the White House said in a fact sheet promoting an Energy Department report on wind. “With economically competitive prices in many areas, the U.S. wind energy market currently remains strong as more utilities select wind as a cost-saving option, paving the way to a low-carbon future that protects our air and water and addresses climate change.”

In 2014, coal provided 38.7 percent of the nation’s electricity, making it the single largest power source, according to Energy Information Administration data. Natural gas provided 27.4 percent.

But the administration expects coal’s share to steadily decline in the coming years. The administration projects coal will provide 37.2 percent of U.S. electricity this year, while natural gas is expected to provide 29.2 percent.

The Environmental Protection Agency has said that as a result of its “Clean Power Plan” — which places unprecedented restrictions on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants — coal’s percentage of electricity generation ultimately will drop to 30 percent, possibly lower.

Natural gas is expected to pick up some of that slack, but the administration clearly wants renewables such as wind to also play much larger roles.

“Wind power is a key component of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above approach to American energy — a strategy that helps reduce climate-changing carbon emissions, enhances our energy security and supports good-paying American jobs,” the White House said.

Much of the growth in the wind industry has been fueled by federal investments and tax credits that offer 2.3 cents for each kilowatt hour of power generated by wind. That tax credit recently expired and it is unclear whether it will be reinstated this year.

The full Energy Department report can be found here:

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