Curtis Tate Published

Presentation: Renewables, Gas Poised To Dominate U.S. Power Grid

Natural gas pipeline construction work. A dug trench in the ground
A natural gas pipeline under construction.

What does the future hold for electricity generation? Renewables and gas will dominate the grid in the years to come, according to a presentation given to the Gas and Oil Association of West Virginia.

Curtis Wilkerson, founder and CEO of Orion Strategies, a public relations firm, said wind and solar are now the cheapest form of electricity.

“One of the things that is a large misnomer is that people think that renewables are expensive. They’re now the cheapest form of electricity,” he said. “When you look at what’s called levelized cost of electricity – that means from construction through its natural lifespan – and wind and sun don’t cost anything.”

Wilkerson said the future power needs of the country will include growth in building electrification and electric vehicles, as well as data centers.

And what was considered baseload power in the past, namely coal and nuclear, will be overtaken by renewables and gas.

“Solar in particular, has fallen 90 percent in the last 10 years, the cost. And the next cheapest form of electricity, which is largely dispatchable, is natural gas,” he said. “Notice how much more expensive coal is and how much more expensive nuclear is. And that gives you why if the projections for the United States, energy supply or electricity supply will be renewables and natural gas for many years to come.”

Gas currently supplies about 40 percent of the country’s electricity. Big growth in renewables, especially solar, is expected over the next two years.

But as Wilkerson told the trade association, electricity demand will grow, and gas can capture some of the growth along with renewables.