EIA Report: Nuclear generation to drop 8 percent by 2050

February 14, 2020, 4:50PMNuclear News

The U.S. Energy Information Administration is projecting that U.S. electricity generation from nuclear power will most likely decline from its 2019 share of about 20 percent to 12 percent by 2050. In addition, the agency sees generation from coal declining by 11 percent, from 24 percent to 13 percent.

According to the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2020, released in late January, nuclear and coal will experience a substantial falloff over the next few years—the result of slow load growth and the increasing electricity production from renewables, which is expected to grow from 19 percent to 38 percent over the next 30 years—but will then plateau to collectively provide about 25 percent of the nation’s electricity through the century’s midpoint.

These projections are taken from AEO2020’s reference case scenario (see left graph below), which, the report states, represents the EIA’s “best assessment of how U.S. and world energy markets will operate through 2050, based on key assumptions intended to provide a base for exploring long-­term trends.” The report adds that the economic and demographic trends reflected in the reference case are based on the “current views of leading economic forecasters and demographers.”

AEO2020 also includes scenarios that use alternative assumptions called “side cases.” In the report’s high oil and gas supply case (see right graph), for instance, natural gas–fired electricity generation continues to increase, largely at the expense of nuclear and coal, which fall to 7 percent and 9 percent, respectively, of total generation by 2050. The low oil and gas supply case (see middle graph) provides better news, showing nuclear’s share falling to 14 percent by 2050, while coal’s share drops to 16 percent.

The EIA’s 81-­page report can be found on the Web at <www.eia.gov/aeo>.

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