The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently reported solar and wind power could become cost competitive with traditional fossil fuels by 2025, even without subsidies, as long as renewable energy development occurs in the most productive locations.
The report, “Beyond Renewable Portfolio Standards: An Assessment of Regional Supply and Demand Conditions Affecting the Future of Renewable Energy in the West” (pdf), compares unsubsidized renewable energy generated in the West with subsidized electricity from natural gas generated near customers. More specifically, if development in California, Arizona, and Nevada is continued, the western trifecta will possess a surplus of state-of-the-art solar resources by 2025.
The report notes, however, the study used data based on trends, meaning energy demands could face a variety of influences in the future. Among them: changes in supply, demand, and price of natural gas, consumer beliefs toward these resources, technological changes and improvements, and government policies and regulations. Such influences make the report’s predictions difficult to guarantee, but NREL Senior Analyst and author of the report, David Hurlbut, says it’s just a matter of “finding the right mix” of renewables and natural gas generation.
Other sources: Solar & Wind Power To Be Cost-Competitive Without Subsidies By 2025 (NREL), While Fossil Fuels Still Subsidized Through Externalities, Clean Technica Western US renewables could become cost competitive by 2025, PV Magazine