A study from the U.S. Department of Energy and conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) says that wind and solar power generation could become cost-competitive without federal subsidies by 2025, but with a stipulation.
The report, “Beyond Renewable Portfolio Standards: An Assessment of Regional Supply and Demand Conditions Affecting the Future of Renewable Energy in the West,” says the renewable energy developments would have to be in the most productive locations in order to be cost-effective, such as areas where renewable sources are the most strongest, most consistent and most concentrated. The report compares the cost of renewable generation from the Western U.S. without any federal incentives to the cost of a new natural gas-fired power plant built near the customer it serves.
The study says that Wyoming and New Mexico could be competitive areas among wind projects that want to serve California and the Southwest U.S. It also says that geothermal power developments could trend toward Idaho by 2025 since much of Nevada’s resources would have been tapped.
“Renewable energy development, to date, has mostly been in response to state mandates,” said NREL Senior Analyst David Hurlbut, the report’s lead author. “What this study does is look at where the most cost-effective yet untapped resources are likely to be when the last of these mandates culminates in 2025, and what it might cost to connect them to the best-matched population centers.”