Economic and population growth will outpace gains in energy efficiency over the next 30 years as energy consumption continues to increase, according to the Energy Information Administration.
The EIA projects in its Annual Energy Outlook 2022 that renewable energy, pushed by wind and solar incentives, improving technology and falling costs, will be the fastest growing source of energy. Still, petroleum and liquid fuels will remain the most consumed source in the United States through 2050.
Despite improvements in adapting renewable energy, EIA Acting Administrator Steve Nalley says without changes in laws and regulations, improvements in energy efficiency will slow the pace of growth in energy consumption in the US. He says that will spur technology advancement and more resource development to increase the supply.
As energy prices grew more than any other commodity used by industries last year, the EIA finds that policies do exist to create incentives to invest in solar and wind energy to support strong competition with natural gas for electricity generation. Technological advancements will help drive down costs and increase competitiveness for renewable sources.
Earlier in 2022, the EIA predicted solar power to provide half of the new utility grade electricity generation in the US this year. The EIA says there will be more than 46 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity added in 2022. It also expects gains in solar, natural gas and battery storage this year.
This comes as the amount of renewable energy added in the US exceeded expectations last year. Solar power increased by 25% last year, making it the fastest growing source of energy generation.
Other clean and renewable projects are also being developed in the US to expand energy efficiency. A large-scale scale green hydrogen energy infrastructure plan is being proposed by SolCalGas, for example. With demand strong for natural gas as well as a continued focus on efficient energy needs and other ways to produce clean fuels, programs like one in California that will turn methane at dairy farms into renewable natural gas also become more common.
The EIA says US crude oil production will reach record highs in 2022 and natural gas production will be increasingly driven by exports. Production of natural gas will be driven by global demand and the EIA projects continued growth in natural gas export capacity.