Global electric power generation from renewable sources is expected to rise more than 20% between 2018 and 2050, and renewable sources are projected to provide nearly half of the world’s electricity in 2050, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The projections are part of the EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2019.
Between 2018 and 2050, coal-fired generation is expected to fall 13% and comprise 22% of the generation mix in 2050. Over the same period, worldwide electricity generation is projected to rise 1.8% annually through 2050. From 2018 to 2050, total world electricity generation will increase by nearly 20 trillion kilowatt-hours to 45 trillion kilowatt-hours. Over the period, regions that are not members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will have the most growth in electricity demand. OECD members include 36 countries, such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and non-OECD members include more than 70 countries, such as Brazil, China and Russia.
A region’s fuel share of generation can be impacted by electricity demand growth and the region’s policies, which can allow for incentives. Some regions have high electricity demand growth, while others have strong emissions reduction policies. Variations in demand growth and policies across regions can lead to differences in fuel share for electricity generation. However, the power sector’s share of generation from renewables has risen while the share of coal has fallen.
India is projected to have the most rapid regional electricity demand growth at 4.6% annually. The country doesn’t have a strong emissions reduction policy but has goals for solar and wind capacity. As a result, coal-fired generation is expected to rise along with solar and wind generation. Solar, wind and coal are projected to comprise 90% of India’s electricity generation mix in 2050. Wind and solar are expected to account for more than half of electricity generation by 2050, while the share for coal is projected to fall to 40%, from 75%.
The addition of new capacity for renewable technologies is economically competitive with fossil fuel technologies worldwide. But without policy incentives, countries with low growth in electricity demand aren’t expected to have a rise in generation from renewable sources. OECD members in Europe are projected to have about a 1% increase in electricity demand annually, but a regional cap on carbon dioxide emissions is expected to contribute to a decline in fossil-fired generation and lead to a rise in renewable generation. Among the OECD members in Europe, the share of wind and solar generation will rise to 50% by 2050, from 20% in 2018. Over the same period, fossil-fired generation will fall to 18% of the generation mix, from about 37%. By 2050, coal-fired generation will comprise 5% of the generation mix.
The mix of generation resources in the non-OECD members in Europe and the Eurasia region, excluding Russia, is projected to have a slight change. These regions are expected to have electricity demand growth of less than 1% annually and no policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Through 2050, wind and solar generation is expected to rise marginally and account for less than 10% of the generation mix by 2050. Hydroelectric power is expected to be the main source of renewable generation for the region. Natural gas generation will replace some coal-fired generation, which is projected to fall from 31% in 2018 to 15% by 2050, but the overall share of fossil generation is expected to change little.