50% clean power ‘doable’ for North America by 2025 — EIA chief

Source: Emily Holden, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration today called a goal by North American leaders to reach 50 percent carbon-free power by 2025 “doable.”

Speaking at an event to discuss his agency’s Annual Energy Outlook, EIA Chief Adam Sieminski said the United States, Canada and Mexico are expected to reach 46 percent power from renewables and nuclear by 2025 (ClimateWire, June 28).

That’s excluding power-saving energy efficiency efforts and carbon capture from fossil fuel projects that the countries intend to count, Sieminski said.

“It’s doable,” he said.

But, he added, “it’s certainly possible that further policy changes might be required.”

Sieminski said energy efficiency projects could push the countries toward the goal, but carbon capture and storage is less likely to develop quickly within the next decade.

“We’re really only just getting started on that in the U.S.,” Sieminski noted after the event.

In any case, understanding how those credits would work would be key, he said.

“We are moving in that direction in any event, and policy agreements like this … enhance and intensify some of the trends that are already underway,” Sieminski said.

Although the details of the agreement aren’t clear, he said, the goals seem to count nuclear, hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal and biomass.

The three countries as a whole currently get about 37 percent of electricity from those sources, he said. The United States alone lags behind that level, generating just 32 percent zero-carbon power.

EIA estimates that the United States could reach between 41 and 43 percent clean energy by 2025, if U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions moves forward in the face of legal challenges.

Without the Clean Power Plan, EIA projects the United States could get to 38 percent by 2025.